Wiggle Room

Open the doors of a certain suburban Maryland warehouse and you’ll discover more than 120,000 jars, jugs and test tubes—many containing parasitic worms. Property of the Smithsonian Institution, the worm collection is a historical treasure trove relied upon by researchers around the globe.

As part of “Worm Week,” NPR’s Goats and Soda explored the collection, which was started by the US Department of Agriculture in 1892. The collection oozes diversity, containing everything from a guinea worm collected in 1901 to worms gathered in 1984 from the flesh of a deer.

Goats and Soda’s Malaka Gharib also interviewed Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. He’s leading the charge against parasitic diseases, including work on the first vaccines for hookworm and schistosomiasis. Gharib reveals Hotez’s top priority in the fight against worm diseases, and why he chose to focus on worm diseases, even though they are generally not killer diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria.

The Quote: "Some diseases have Bono or Angelina Jolie as their champions, but hookworm has only Peter Hotez."

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