As well as a further set of PPDRs and many internal meetings, a number of last week’s engagements seemed to be around the animal health area, including a meeting with Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development, and the launch of the Global Strategic Alliance for the Coordination of Research on the Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses (STAR-IDAZ) network. The latter is an EC-funded project, led by Alex Morrow of Defra, designed to bring together relevant experts from a very large number of countries worldwide to help coordinate of national research programmes on animal health (including livestock, aquatic animals and bees) and zoonoses world-wide.

Sharing information and discussing it widely is an important part of our work, and the Research Councils hosted a series of meetings with Professor Kathy Sykes from the University of Bristol who chairs the relevant Advisory Group for RCUK. In terms of dissemination, I was pleased to note that this blog itself is referred to as a ‘top tweet’ in the Biofuels Digest!

Even when work is published, it can often be hard to acquire access to it, and a cautionary tale set out how hard it was for a couple of brothers to acquire and make available the scientific papers written by their own late father. There are many reasons for promoting Open Access, and cases such as this remind us of how precious a resource is the accessibility of literature and data. Partly to this end, the Royal Society is initiating an enquiry into openness in Science.

Network biology continues to be an important area of activity. Bryan Charleston and colleagues at the Institute for Animal Health and elsewhere used a Bayesian analysis to determine a time window in which cattle bearing foot and mouth virus are not infectious, with important policy implications. A new paper analyses networks in terms of their degree distribution to determine rules by which best to control tem, again with major implications in drug development and biotechnology.

My chief New Year resolution was to try to walk between engagements when time and logistics permit, so I was please to participate in a BBSRC event as part of Walk to Work Week.

And finally, let me give another reminder that we are seeking highly qualified members for a variety of our Committees and Strategy Panels.

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