TO: WormMail list (recip. undisclosed) cc Editor, NZFW
From NZ Farmers Weekly. http://agrihq.co.nz/article/a-champion-of-drench-resistance?p=6
Article and photograph reproduced here with permission. Please do not reproduce without permission from NZ Farmers Weekly, the journalist or editor, and the photographer.
Article heading: A champion of drench resistance
"Sheep farmers feeling powerless have a friend in parasitologist Dr Dave Leathwick. Tim Fulton reports.
"It’s almost job done for the study of parasitic resistance in sheep and science is turning to the new frontier of cattle." (See this*, for example)
"AgResearch scientist Dave Leathwick has been recognised by his peers as an R9, a lofty position that recognises the gift he has delivered to sheep farmers and the study of human health.
For the past 23 years Leathwick has been part of a team researching the epidemiology of nematode parasites of sheep, particularly the development and management of anthelmintic drench resistance.
His research director Warren McNabb said R9 status was recognition of science excellence, leadership and mentoring. Leathwick was an outstanding AgResearch citizen in that regard, he said.
Science group leader Ian Sutherland said Leathwick was also one of only a few New Zealanders widely recognised at the top of their field. Proof of this could be found in more than 50 published papers and his regular billing as a speaker at international conferences and industry forums.
In February, for example, Leathwick presented a paper to the International Sheep Veterinary Congress in Rotorua called Sustainable Control of Nematode Parasites – the New Zealand Story. The presentation was judged the best session of the conference.
His research career began with the building of computer models of drench resistance and he went on to test outputs from the models in a series of large-scale field trials. Many of today’s recommendations going to farmers about the management of anthelmintic resistance were under-pinned by research from this group.
Leathwick said the R9 status was probably a sign of getting old – and added he didn’t usually tell strangers he was a parasitologist, partly because it created too much hassle with customs at airports.
However, his contribution to animal and human health can’t be brushed off. He’s happy to acknowledge how far research has come in his field, to a point where knowledge of parasite resistance in sheep could basically be handed to farmers as ready-made extension material." (See www.wormboss.com.au for example – SL 🙂
“Essentially we think we’ve done what we were asked to do. The knowledge is there – increasingly it’s an issue of extension and adoption.” That was extremely satisfying, he said. “It’s a good feeling and there’s been a heap of people involved, but it’s a really nice place to be. And I think it’s why we’re starting to get more recognition internationally.”
Leathwick hoped the same sort of progress could eventually be made in cattle farming, provided everyone was prepared for another all-out effort.
He acknowledged his career had exposed him to all sorts of antics in animal health research and commercialisation, driven at times by short-sighted desire to get a jump on competitors. The losers would invariably be farmers left to deal with drench resistance, he said.
Animal health companies were heading in the right direction, scientifically and commercially, he said.
Novartis, for example, had identified parasite resistance as a potential threat to a new class of drench it brought to the market as Zolvix, with the active ingredient monepantel. The company had invested enormously in bringing a new drug to market and had been the first with a strong plan for how it would protect its value against parasitic resistance.“It has never happened before, so in that sense the world is changing,” he said.
Leathwick is working now on behalf of a drug company in the United States, giving advice on how drugs should be used to make them last.“Their long-term goal is to remain financially viable and if resistance kills all their products then they don’t sell them any more.”
He said some people would be surprised how closely scientists worked with drug companies, although inevitably the relationship could wax and wane as scientists tried to make objective assessments.
He remained cynical about animal health companies’ desire to make profit for shareholders but was also proud of being part of a team that had remained professional.
“I think one of the reasons over that time that we’ve got on better with the companies is that we’ve remained staunchly independent and we base everything we say on fact and evidence.”
Satisfaction also came from the contribution his peer group had made to fighting drug resistance in humans. If it wasn’t resistance to drugs for tuberculosis it might be mosquitoes that carry malaria becoming resistant to insecticides.
Leathwick began his research career in 1974 as a technician in the weed biology and control team of Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, before going on to complete a science degree with honours in zoology at the University of Canterbury. He followed that with a PhD in entomology at Lincoln College and with that expertise he has collaborated at times in wasp and weed research.
In 2010 he won the NZ Society of Animal Production’s McMeekan Award for his outstanding contribution to animal production in NZ."
“Essentially we think we’ve done what we were asked to do. The knowledge is there – increasingly it’s an issue of extension and adoption.”
Dr Dave Leathwick
TOP OF FIELD: AgResearch scientist Dave Leathwick has been recognised by his peers for his science excellence, leadership and mentoring. Photo: Graeme Brown"
‘A good/interesting article I thought, but I am not so sure about the (ambiguous?) heading.
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