Event / In Conversation
SENTINEL CHICKENS: What birds can tell us about our health and our world
Published by: MELBOURNE.UNIVERSITY.PUBLISHING
In conversation with Wilson Da Silva
Venue: gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
Cost: $10/$7 conc. gleeclub welcome
Book: gleebooks - 9660 2333 or Secure Online Booking
The idea of ‘sentinel chickens’ seemed pretty incongruous when I first heard the phrase as a young undergraduate … The notion of the humble chicken waiting like a trained soldier, alert and focused, for some unseen and approaching enemy just didn’t seem likely. Hens en garde!
And yet guard they do. Not only chickens, but puffins, eagles, canaries and pelicans, birds of all kinds are recruited by humans to help us interpret changes in our complex, increasingly challenged and unpredictable world. These wonderful creatures continually sample the atmosphere, oceans, fields and forests, signalling toxic and environmental dangers that threaten all vertebrates.
Through personal stories and colourful examples, Nobel-prize winner Peter Doherty shows also how birds have contributed to cutting-edge medical research. Studying birds, has helped us to understand the nature of human cancer, malaria and influenza, and contributed to the development of new vaccines and cures. In his engaging and enthusiastic way, Peter argues that the insights birds provide will continue to impact very directly on our future.
Birds pollenate, spread plant seeds and control insects. By endangering their habitats through human activities, we ultimately present a threat to our own wellbeing. Sentinel Chickens shows why we should give our feathered friends our close, sustained and caring attention.
Peter Doherty’s pioneering research into human immune systems earned him the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1996. He was Australian of the Year and awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1997 and currently divides his professional time between the University of Melbourne and St Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, where he is helping unravel the mystery of childhood cancer. He is the author of The Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize: A Life in Science and A Light History of Hot Air.