Vale Trevor John Bagust 1944 – 2014

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Written By:  Kevin Whithear and Jagoda Ignjatovic


Born in 1944 in Tauranga, New Zealand, Trevor John Bagust came from a family of farmers and builders.  His schooling was at Mt Albert Grammar School Auckland, at the completion of which he crossed the ditch to the University of Queensland, graduating in 1966 with the degree of Bachelor of Veterinary Science.  This was followed by a PhD in animal virology (bovine and equine herpes viruses) at the same university, completed in 1970.  Immediately following his PhD Trevor was employed as a research scientist developing animal vaccines at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, and then in 1973 was recruited into the CSIRO Division of Animal Health, Parkville to develop an avian diseases research program.


 Trevor Bagust



Trevor was responsible early in his career for the design, establishment and operation of the National Specified Pathogen-Free (SPF) Poultry Facility, opened in 1977, which provided a foundation for avian disease research, vaccine production and avian exotic disease diagnosis in Australia and the southern hemisphere for some 20 years. Under his leadership, the CSIRO SPF flocks were unique in the world – remaining free from infection with chicken anaemia virus.


From 1975 to 1985 Trevor developed and led a large CSIRO program of research into a number of infectious diseases of major economic importance to the Australian poultry industry. These included avian leucosis, reticuloendotheliosis, infectious bursal disease, infectious bronchitis, and infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT). His work improved our understanding of mechanisms of pathogenesis, transmission, diagnosis, and control, of these viral infections and in the case of lymphoid leucosis virus led to its eradication from Australian commercial flocks. Of particular note was his discovery that the trigeminal ganglion becomes a major site for latency establishment by ILT viruses, including modified live virus vaccine strains, that later underwent reactivation and spread.  His work also led to the development and commercial application of the A20 vaccine strain of ILT virus that is still used in Australia and overseas over 20 years after its discovery.  In recognition of his knowledge and expertise, Trevor was invited to co-author the chapter on ILT in ‘Diseases of Poultry’, the world’s leading textbook on the subject, which he did for three editions between 1991 and 2003.


In 1985 Trevor was appointed Officer-in Charge of CSIRO Animal Health Research Laboratory and between 1987 and 1989 was acting Chief of the CSIRO Division of Animal Health. It was during this time that a very successful avian viral vectors group was established and a new entrepreneurial atmosphere was introduced in the Laboratory. While Officer-in Charge, Trevor was appointed Director of Australia-China Poultry Projects (1988-1996) operated through AusAID, the Australian international development agency. Under his leadership, China’s national SPF poultry production facility at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in northern China, the Poultry Diseases Diagnostic and Training Centre at Tianjin and the Beijing Laboratory Animals Research Centre were all established. This bilateral development assistance project was a recognised success story that laid the foundations for the subsequent development of China’s poultry vaccine manufacturing, diagnostic services and research into poultry disease; all underpinning the modern intensive poultry industry, now the largest in the world. The Harbin Veterinary Research Institute has since become the leading veterinary research organisation in China and host institute for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Collaborating Center for Zoonoses in the Asia-Pacific, the Food and Agriculture Organisation Reference Center for Animal Influenza and the OIE Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza.


In 1997, Trevor was honoured for his work in China and in Viet Nam by the award of the Kesteven Medal by the Australian Veterinary Association in recognition of his “outstanding achievements in international animal health development assistance”.


Throughout his time in CSIRO Trevor worked with and provided opportunities for many colleagues and was very supportive of, in particular, young scientists, including many from overseas countries for whom he provided crucial training and opportunities.  Trevor hosted many distinguished scientists and visitors to the CSIRO Animal Health Research Laboratory and was tireless in promoting the individual and collective achievements of avian disease research in Australia.


In 1996, after the closure of CSIRO Animal Health Research Laboratory in Parkville and translocation to the AAHL site in Geelong, Trevor departed CSIRO and was appointed Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Veterinary Science the University of Melbourne.  This brought a change in Trevor’s activities, although avian health and poultry diseases research and diagnosis continued as major interests.  In 1998 Trevor undertook the development of a Master of Veterinary Studies course for postgraduate specialisation in avian health for veterinarians.  He taught face-to-face delivery of the course from 1999 to 2004, and from 2003 supervised its transformation to a distance-learning format suitable for delivery internationally via the internet.


From 2004 to 2010, with funding assistance from the Australian Poultry CRC, Trevor was pivotal in the establishment and development of Avian Health Online™.  This program provides postgraduate education and competencies training of avian veterinarians via online interactive learning.  Avian Health Online™ is presented worldwide as an academic collaboration between staff of the veterinary faculties of the University of Melbourne and the University of Georgia, USA and both institutions jointly award the postgraduate certificate and master degree qualifications.  In 2011 the American College of Poultry Veterinarians formally accredited Avian Health Online™ as a course suitable for preparing candidates to directly undertake their examinations for USA Board Registration.


Trevor has authored some 70 peer-reviewed scientific articles and textbook chapters. In recognition of his scientific standing and his seminal contributions to Avian Health Online™, in 2012 he was appointed an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Population Health the University of Georgia, USA and as an honorary Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne.  He was a Life Member of the Australian Veterinary Association and the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists, and was an editor and member of the Advisory Board of Avian Pathology, the scientific journal of the World Veterinary Poultry Association (WVPA).  In 2013 he was admitted as a foundation member of the WVPA Hall of Honour that “recognises poultry veterinarians and health scientists who made an outstanding contribution in the furtherance of poultry veterinary science”. Trevor was twice a former President of the Australasian Veterinary Poultry Association (AVPA) and represented AVPA within the Bureau of the WVPA for some 20 years to 2012. He was elected President of the WVPA in 2011; a position he was to continue until August 2015 but for his untimely and sudden death on 28 February 2014.


Trevor loved to play piano, smoke his pipe and speak French, which he loved and used with flare.  Friends and colleagues knew Trevor by the sobriquet ‘T-Bags’ which is obviously a truncation of his name, but in some ways also appropriate, because a visit to his office invariably led to an invitation to join him in a cup of tea or coffee accompanied by his ubiquitous pipe and clouds of smoke.  When smoking indoors was banned it was necessary to take tea outside, regardless of weather conditions, and one quickly learned to position oneself upwind of the pipe.


Trevor was a person possessing boundless energy and enthusiasm and was the eternal optimist.  He was almost invariably cheerful and always passionate about causes he believed in. He had a remarkable, full, and varied career of achievement.


Most recently he had been enjoying ‘semi-retirement’ in coastal Victoria, devoting time to playing bridge, music, gardening, reading and furniture restoration. He is survived by his wife Joanne, daughters Fiona, Kathryn and Elizabeth, and grandchildren Jacob, Lachlan and Elise.  To them, the AVPA extends its sincerest condolences.

England, after Nantes.  Trevor inducts Professor Frank Jordan, one of his great Idols, into the WVPA Hall of Honour.  Frank is 95.

England, after Nantes. Trevor inducts Professor Frank Jordan, one of his great Idols, into the WVPA Hall of Honour. Frank is 95.

Nantes 2013.  Trevor congratulates the UK team on winning the vote to hold the WVPA congress in Edinburgh in 2017 .(Dick Jones far right)

Nantes 2013. Trevor congratulates the UK team on winning the vote to hold the WVPA congress in Edinburgh in 2017 .(Dick Jones far right)


WVPA congress Cancun 2011. Trevor with friends from UK, South Africa and Morocco.

WVPA congress Cancun 2011. Trevor with friends from UK, South Africa and Morocco.


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