In memory of Antonio Zanella

Professor Antonio Zanella

On Monday, March 30, 2020, Professor Antonio Zanella passed away, a well-known figure in the panorama of Italian and International aviculture, his life quickly cut short by the Coronavirus infection.

Born in 1931, after graduating in Veterinary Medicine in Parma, he began his career with a scholarship at the Istituto Zooprofilattico of Lombardy. After a spell as an assistant at their Mantua section he returned to the headquarters. This was a period of time during which animal infectious diseases were the common thread, especially in the poultry sector, and his interest in this field of study became his passion in the years to come.

In 1961 from the diagnostic sector, from which he had gained great experience and technical ability, he moved on to the world of industrial research working for Farmitalia in Milan, thus starting his experience in the world of vaccines.

The real turning point in Antonio’s career occurred in 1963, when he was chosen as head of the Cipzoo Spa diagnostic laboratory in Brescia, giving him the opportunity to express his skills more autonomously, carrying out diagnostics of the main diseases of poultry and pigs, with particular attention to the vaccine sector.

Working always with great passion and driven by an interest in knowledge, he came into contact with various European teachers and professionals among these, Prof. P.M. Biggs and Prof. B. Burmester with whom he became interested in Marek’s disease, which is the cause of significant losses in poultry farming. To this end he worked for a month at the Houghton Avian Research Station in the United Kingdom, under the supervision of Prof. Biggs. With great satisfaction he managed to find an effective vaccine for Marek’s disease. There were other experiences abroad at the most prestigious research institutes both in Europe and in the United States. In those same years he collaborated with the Institute of Infectious Diseases of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Milan and in 1968 he obtained a Docentship in Infectious Diseases, prophylaxis and veterinary policy. His working life continued between the academic and industrial world, allowing him to develop that balance between scientific knowledge and practical skills that was to characterize all his subsequent professional activity.

In 1972 he persuaded Cipzoo S.p.A. to build a new laboratory, Eurobio Spa (later called Nuova Eurobio Vaccini) for the research, development and marketing of vaccines, where he held the position of director for more than ten years.

After completing his activity in the industrial sector, in 1979 he obtained the position of Professor of Virology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Milan and devoted himself to teaching and research. This teaching role gave  him  the  opportunity to transmit his profound theoretical and practical knowledge to the students. He never stopped deepening his knowledge, and assiduously attended national and international scientific conferences.

When, in 1986, Fatro acquired Nuova Eurobio Vaccini by restructuring it and began promoting their avian vaccines on the international market, one of their first acts was to entrust him with the task of providing technical-scientific support to their foreign customers. Thus, after finishing his academic activity, Antonio continued his professional life with frequent trips abroad, always being welcomed and appreciated by veterinarians all over the world for his profound knowledge and practical approach.

A long and articulated career marked by determination, the desire for knowledge and a passion for his work.

Charismatic figure, not inclined to compromise, sometimes irrepressible in supporting his convictions, all tempered by the vivid intelligence and great skills that everyone recognized. He leaves a great void in the Italian and International field of avian pathology, where few have been equal to him in their ability to elaborate technical-scientific, didactic and field knowledge and experiences.