Giving Compass' Take:

• TIME magazine reports on researchers in Brazil, who are testing an anti-venom found from a deadly viper to see if it might be useful to help prevent cancer metastasis.

• Such groundbreaking research wouldn't be possible without money and resources. How can philanthropists support more bold ideas in the field of disease science?

• One impact opportunity is funding for bladder cancer research.

“Guys, watch my back, please,” Dr. Rodrigo Souza calls out. “I’m breaking the golden rule never to get cornered.”

Souza, 57, can tell the 12-foot bushmaster’s mood just by looking at it.

“The tongue movement tells me everything I need to know,” he says. “They’re gentle animals. They won’t attack if you handle gently.”

Inside a cage at his rescue in the northeast of Brazil, Souza towers over the motionless heat-seeking viper wrapped like a coil on the dirt, his homemade staff pointed at the snake’s neck. With the quickness and precision of a bushmaster attack, his staff makes contact with the viper’s neck, pinning it to the ground. He scoops it up and clamps it under his arm, making sure to keep the neck straight before exiting the cage.

“You cannot restrain the neck area, they will twist around and break their own spinal cord,” Souza says.

With his hands tense in a firm grip, Souza brings the viper’s head to a beaker covered with plastic film. The snake bites down and translucent ooze drips down to the bottom.

Eladio Sanchez, head of the Ezequiel Dias Foundation research facility in Belo Horizonte, picks up the cup with gloved hands, careful not to let any venom touch his skin. (If venom gets into an open cut or sore it could kill you faster than a bite, Souza says.) Sanchez visits Souza’s rescue to collect venom from bushmasters (known officially as Lachesis muta), the world’s largest pit viper, to produce anti-venom as well as to test it as part of exciting new research into using venom to stop the spread of cancer, or metastasis. It’s a risky venture, but one the doctors think could save lives — human and reptilian.

Read the full article about snake venom and cancer research by Joel Balsam at