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COCCI People - Dr H.David Chapman

Navigating the sparkling new waters of coccidiosis control

Chapman and feathered friend in the lobby of the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, University of Arkansas.

What does it take to be one of the world’s leading and most respected authorities on coccidiosis?

You have to meet several rigorous criteria, says Dr. Harry Danforth, now technology transfer coordinator for USDA’s Henry A. Wallace Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Md.

Obviously, you have to be passionate about and devoted to coccidiosis, Danforth points out.

“But you also have to be a great researcher, great teacher and a great colleague… very approachable and generous about sharing your time and expertise,” he emphasizes.

So who best fits that profile?

“David Chapman,” Danforth replies instantly.

Having previously worked in the world of coccidiosis research for more than 20 years, Danforth is quick to extol the exemplary qualities and qualifications of his long-time friend and colleague.

Integrated Approach

“Most notably, David Chapman has been one of the leading proponents of an integrated approach to coccidiosis control,” Danforth begins. “He supports the use of live oocyst vaccines and anticoccidial drugs in well-managed rotational programs to prevent the disease.”

A native of the United Kingdom, Dr. H. David Chapman obtained a B.S. degree in Zoology at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London University, and a Ph.D. in Parasitology at the University of York in the U.K. His doctoral project focused on parasites that plague our finned friends, specifically fish flukes.

Degrees in hand, he worked briefly in the pharmaceutical industry, where he conducted research in coccidiosis and liver fluke disease in cattle and sheep. In 1972 he moved to the Houghton Poultry Research Station (HPRS), a former British organization devoted to diseases of fowl. It was there Chapman immersed his energies in his life’s work that would earn him tremendous notoriety and acclaim in the international coccidiosis arena.

During 18 years at the HPRS, Chapman concentrated on the mechanisms of drug resistance, which was evolving as an important economic problem during that time.

Speaking of economics, government budget cuts for agricultural research during the late 1980s prompted Chapman to research greener pastures for his professional endeavors.

A New Challenge

In 1990, Chapman was lured to Razorback country in the state where 80% of agricultural production involves poultry. He accepted a faculty position at the University of Arkansas (UA), Fayetteville, Ark. His appointment involves 90% research and 10% teaching.

With the completion of 112,000- square foot, state-of-the-art facilities in 1995, the UA Department of Poultry Science — some 30-plus faculty members strong — has become a worldclass Center of Excellence for Poultry Science and the perfect venue for Chapman’s research. During his tenure at UA, Chapman has developed important scientific information with practical value to the poultry industry worldwide.

“Since I came to the University of Arkansas, my primary research interest has been exactly the same as it was in my previous position, control of coccidiosis,” Chapman says.

“The first question I tackled here was whether or not you can use vaccines to restore sensitivity to drugs,” he relates.

Scientific Breakthroughs

Using coccidial strains that dated to the 1950s, Chapman was the first scientist to prove that sensitivity to coccidiostats can be restored by vaccinating broilers for coccidiosis. This landmark research, highlighted in a 1994 scientific paper, has been a major breakthrough in poultry- producing regions where drug resistance was previously a problem.

The results of this project have subsequently been corroborated by a number of fellow “coccidiologists,” including Danforth.

Practical Protocols

Additionally, Chapman has provided a clear understanding of the role that immunity plays in assuring the efficacy of ionophores as anticoccidial drugs. To that end, he has demonstrated how immunity produced through exposure to partially ionophore-resistant strains of coccidia works in concert with ionophore anticoccidials to ensure optimum broiler growth. As a result of this work, he has been able to recommend viable management protocols conducive to long-term coccidiosis control.

Moreover, Chapman has demonstrated that these favorable effects can be enhanced through the use of a vaccine containing drug-sensitive coccidia. He further showed that coccidia introduced through vaccination flush the resident population of drug-resistant coccidia, making the subsequent use of anticoccidial drugs more effective in broiler facilities.

To what does Chapman attribute his great success with coccidiosis research? “People describe me as ‘organized’ and ’meticulous,’” he relates. “I’m very detail-minded and I always strive to do things carefully, correctly and in an unbiased way.”

“Considering David Chapman’s many outstanding qualities, I most admire his communication skills,” Danforth mentions. “He is an excellent speaker, writer and editor with a tremendous skill for organizing and relaying his thoughts and scientific information in a way that anyone involved in the poultry industry can understand and benefit from.”

Chapman is the sole or principal author of more than 90 scientific publications, including many reviews and book chapters. He is a frequent featured speaker at national and international meetings.

It may sound like Chapman works all the time, but during his business travels, he often pursues his favorite hobby, bird watching.

Top Honors

In 2000, Chapman received the prestigious National Chicken Council Broiler Research Award in recognition of his profound body of work. In 2001, the coveted John W. White Research Award came his way from the UA Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

“I love my work and I wouldn’t change my career for anything,” Chapman emphasizes. “Even though my primary responsibility is research, the most satisfying part of my appointment is teaching. Being involved with young people is the biggest advantage of the job.”

Chapman contributes to an introductory animal science course for undergraduates, and also teaches a graduate course in poultry diseases, including coccidiosis, of course.

“David Chapman’s ideas relative to coccidiosis control are extremely innovative and definitely ahead of their time,” Danforth adds.

“It will take a while to educate producers and everyone involved in the industry that his recommendations are critical to flock health and profitability. But David is taking the lead in that regard and undoubtedly the poultry industry’s ability to control coccidiosis in the years ahead will depend on his work.”

Source: CocciForum Issue No.4, Schering-Plough Animal Health.

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