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gordonRobert Gordon was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1909 and died on 5th February, 1981. He graduated in Zoology and Geology at the University of Aberdeen in 1930, moving to London to qualify as a veterinary surgeon from the Royal Veterinary College in 1933. From 1934 to 1948 he was head of the Poultry Diagnostic Department of the Central Veterinary laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at Weybridge. Here he was much involved in research into avian salmonellosis pullorum in particular. This led in 1947 to the award of DSc by the University of Aberdeen.


When the Animal Health Trust decided to establish Houghton Poultry Research Station in 1948, it was Dr Gordon who was appointed its Director and given the challenging task of setting up what became, during the ensuing 25 years, his triumph and his memorial. His enormous ability and true crusading spirit overcame many obstacles and attracted a team of keen young scientists. The initially very unpromising temporary facilities were gradually transformed into a centre that was to become one of the world's largest and best known institutes concerned with avian pathology. It was at Houghton that much basic work on avian coccidiosis was carried out, so laying the foundations for improved husbandry measures and the wide range of therapeutic and prophylactic agents subsequently developed. In 1959, one of Bob Gordon's major achievements was in persuading Dr Peter Biggs to leave Bristol University and join the Houghton team to work on the illusive causal agent of the disease commonly known as Fowl Paralysis. Intensive research under Peter Bigg's direction led to the identification of the virus and the development of a vaccine for what was renamed Marek's Disease. This in turn resulted in world wide savings to poultry producers amounting to many million of dollars.
Throughout his career Dr Gordon gave unstintingly to the poultry industry and the veterinary profession both nationally and internationally. At various times he served as a member, secretary, chairman or president of unnumerable committees and associations and was, in addition, a member of many official scientific missions to various parts of the world. After retirement he continued to play an active part in furthering poultry and veterinary science, working on a new edition of his popular and successful book on poultry diseases and as Chairman of the Council of the Animal Health Trust and honorary scientific adviser to that body. Amongst the recognition he received were many awards of various kinds. These included the Tom Newman International Research Award, the medal of the Poultry Association of Great Britain, the British Oil and Cake Mills Poultry Award, the Dalrymple Champneys Cup and Medal, the Victory Medal of the Central Veterinary Society, an Honorary Doctorate of Veterinary Science from the University of Liverpool, honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and appointment as Commander of the British Empire.
While Bob Gordon maintained a close and active interest in the WPSA through his career, serving as a Vice President from 1954 to 1966, it is chiefly as editor of the World's Poultry Science Journal from 1973 to 1980 that Association members will have most cause to remember him. During these eight years his endeavours helped the Journal to gain in scientific standing and to increase its circulation - subscribers as well as members. It was also during this period that plans were laid for the change in design that proved so successful when introduced in 1981.
By means of invited subscriptions, a posthumous tribute to Dr Robert Fraser Gordon was the establishment of a Memorial Trust in 1982. The Trustees are required to select each year a person who has made distinguished contribution to a branch of poultry science. That person may be of any nationality. The recipient of the award is required to deliver a lecture and receives a medal to commemorate the occasion.

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