The zebra finch is a fascinating bird that can learn songs, making it a fantastic model to study learning, memory, neuroscience and the evolution of the brain. Research in this area will have an impact on important human issues such as how we learn and communicate, how we form long and short term memories, amnesia and diseases such as Alzheimer's. Scientists in 24 organisations in six countries have collaborated to produce and translate the genome of the zebra finch, and have published their findings in the journal Nature.
Walter Plowright, who contributed hugely to the control of diseases of livestock, died on February 19th, 2010, aged 86. Among his many achievements was the development of a highly successful vaccine against perhaps the greatest scourge of bovine livestock – cattle plague or rinderpest – for which he was awarded the World Food Prize in 1999. His vaccine played a major role in the global eradication of this disease.