Stephen B. Hitchner
AAAP Hall of Honor

Stephen Hitchner was born and raised in New Jersey, USA. While studying at Rutgers University, he worked part-time for Dr. Fred Beaudette who steered him toward a career in research on infectious diseases of poultry. He later went to the University of Pennsylvania and earned the VMD degree in 1943.
After three years in the Army Veterinary Corps, he took an appointment at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. There, he made the seminal discovery of the B-1 strain of Newcastle disease virus which was destined to be used worldwide as a vaccine, and opened many doors during his career. He was soon offered a Full Professorship at the University of Massachusetts where he conducted research on avian diseases and vaccine development. After three years, he joined American Scientific Laboratories in Wisconsin where he did research and developed vaccines for the next seven years. In 1960, with two colleagues, he established a poultry vaccine company in Maryland. It was very successful and was later purchased by Abbott Laboratories.
Dr Hitchner moved to Cornell University in 1966 as Chair of the Department of Avian Medicine where, in addition to administrative duties, he carried out research on infectious bursal disease, Marek’s disease, infectious laryngotracheitis, parrot herpesvirus, canary pox, and other infections. He supervised graduate students (Cowen, Lucio, Toth) and taught veterinary students. Also, he orchestrated the establishment of a federally licensed biologics production facility at Cornell’s Duck Research Laboratory. Consultancies with the Pan American Health Bureau and the USDA, and editorship of the AAAP manual on avian pathogens were other activities. After relinquishing the department chairmanship in 1976, he continued teaching and research programs for five years, establishing a program in pet and exotic bird medicine. He developed vaccines for Pachecho’s disease and canary pox. He was an author or co-author of 55 scientific publications.
He enjoyed sports, particularly lacrosse (he was an All-American at Rutgers). After retirement in 1981, Dr. Hitchner and his wife, Mariana, (who died in 2012) moved to Maryland where he enjoyed work in ornithology among other pursuits. Mariana died in 2012; they are survived by 4 of their 5 children.