The Fifth Sven Brohult Award was given to Dr José María Gutiérrez of the Universidad de Costa Rica for his research on the venom of Bothrops asper, which is the major poisonous snake in Central America, causing necrosis, haemorrhage, and local inflammatory responses in muscle tissues.
Dr Gutiérrez has worked on the isolation and characterization of the toxins responsible for these effects and studied their mechanisms of action, using electron microscopy as well as a variety of in vitro systems for the analysis of muscle and membrane damage caused by the venoms. Haemorrhagic effects of the venom toxins have also been studied, and this part of the research has contributed to an increased knowledge about local lesions caused by snake venoms. The antivenom developed by Dr Gutiérrez has proved to be effective against other snake species found throughout Latin America.
The IFS Board of Trustees, at their May 1997 Annual Meeting, motivated their choice of Dr Gutiérrez as follows:
"The results of Dr Gutiérrez' IFS-supported research are not only of high scientific quality, they have also found practical use in improving the treatment of victims of snake bites, which constitute a serious health problem in Central America. Dr Gutiérrez, as Director of the Instituto Clodomiro Picado, has developed the institute into an internationally well known and scientifically respected institute with a considerable amount of top-quality research in the area of toxinology."
The Award was presented by His Excellency Fernando H Cardoso, the President of Brazil, on 8 September at the opening ceremony of the global conference on sustainability in Latin America, which took place in Rio de Janeiro.