Venomous animals are a part of life in Southern Arizona. But the desert these animals occupy makes up an extremely small portion of the United States. That means creating anti-venom for those stings and bites can be an overlooked job.

The VIPER Institute has researched and produced anti-venom since its inception nearly 10 years ago. Dr. Leslie Boyer, M.D., has headed the team that entire time. She said the institute started off with the goal of creating the first treatment for bark scorpion sting approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Scorpion anti-venom was a clandestine product until Dr. Boyer's work. It originally found its way to the U.S. from Mexico, when Father Emmet McLoughlin smuggled it across the border to Saint Monica's hospital. Then, in the 1950s, researchers at Arizona State University created anti-venom without FDA approval. The VIPER Institute took over duties in the mid-2000s, creating the first FDA-approved anti-venom in U.S. history.

After accomplishing that goal, Dr. Boyer and the Viper Institute have set their sights on treatment for some of the U.S.' other venomous animals, including rattlesnakes and the family of spiders that includes the brown recluse.