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Renowned parasitologist Peter Long remembered

Last October, sad news slowly spread throughout the world’s poultry industry. Renowned poultry parasitologist Peter Leslie Long had died at age 78 after a short illness.

Peter Long

“Peter Long is a giant in the history of coccidiosis research,” says colleague Dr. Martin Shirley, of the Institute for Animal Health, United Kingdom, who was mentored by Long.

According to Long’s colleague Dr. Ray B. Williams, Long demonstrated a flair for innovation early on when he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and suggested using the erythrocyte fragility test as an aid to diagnosing Cooley’s anaemia in Maltese families.

After his military service, Long worked in parasitology research at the entity now known as the Agricultural Research Council, a British government body. Despite no formal academic qualifications at the time, he made steady and impressive progress in his career and innumerable contributions to the field of coccidiosis research. Long studied part time and, in 1952, became a member of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology by examination and, by 1956 obtained Fellow status.

Long had many other accomplishments too numerous to list here that included a steady stream of publications as well as teaching positions and fellowships around the world. In 1971, he received a PhD from Brunel University for his work on avian coccidia and, in 1977, was awarded a DSc, says Shirley. Long was a recipient of the Tom Newman Medal for Poultry Research from the British Poultry

Breeders and Hatcheries Association and an honorary member of the British Veterinary Poultry Association. He co-edited a book entitled The Coccidia, which became the first in a series of volumes that have stood the test of time and continue to be useful reference texts.

In 1979, Long succeeded Prof. W. Malcolm Reid as Professor in the Department of Poultry Science at the University of Georgia. In 1983, Long was awarded the title of D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor of Poultry Science, which he held until 1990, when he returned to the UK for retirement.

Of Long’s many important contributions to the knowledge of coccidia, says Williams, one of the most significant was his demonstration that Eimeria tenella can develop in chicken embryos.

Improved approaches to attenuation, such as the use of specific-pathogen-free birds, were initiated by Long, leading to the creation of anticoccidial vaccines through the full attenuation of all remaining poultry Eimeria. Long provided tools for other workers to explore the biology and chemotherapy of coccidia.

Adds Shirley: “[Long’s] later contributions to coccidiosis research continued to reflect his desire to improve and understand the control of disease and his early work in Georgia was pivotal to the first understandings of the relationship between pathological changes in the intestines and body weight changes of vaccinated or naive chickens after challenge, findings that were to become important considerations in the evaluation of vaccines.”

Williams notes that Long was also highly respected for his support and encouragement of younger researchers. His generosity in sharing ideas and authorship of publications was widely acknowledged, and the international scientific community showed its appreciation with a dedication to Long at the Ninth International Coccidiosis Conference in Brazil, 2005.

Source: Cocciforum issue 14

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