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roundups & rapid reactions
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

for journalists

When science hits the news agenda, it’s our job to pass on to journalists as much accurate information as we can, as quickly as possible. In order to do this we send out quotes from experts, statistical analyses of scientific studies and factsheets, in addition to running regular press briefings on the latest hot topic. Find our most recent roundups and rapid reactions, briefings, factsheets and ‘before the headlines’ analyses below, or use the icons on the right.

As well as working with experienced specialist reporters, we also provide support to new reporters, editors and generalists through a series of publications, including ‘briefing notes’ on controversial topics, and guidelines on science and health reporting, and by working with the National Coordinator for Science Training for Journalists.

see publications for journalists

Need an expert to interview? The SMC’s database is not quite like any other. Those on it are selected not just for their proven expertise, but also for their willingness and ability to engage with the media when their area of work hits the headlines. The quality of our experts is important to us. The SMC recruits scientists, engineers and others who work for respected institutions, publish in peer-reviewed journals and have a track record of quality research in their specialist field.

The SMC was established to provide assistance to the national news media when covering controversial science stories or breaking news. As such the SMC’s priority remains to support new reporters at UK national news media outlets. We prioritise working with science, health and environment specialists on controversial news pieces, but also provide support for journalists pursuing original and long-form pieces by advising on the best experts to approach and helping to set up visits to institutions.

Get in touch using the details below. Please be aware though, if your enquiry does not fit our remit we may not be able to help or may refer you on to external scientific institutions.


t: +44 (0)20 7611 8300


expert reaction to survey on e-cigarettes and tobacco cessation

Attempting to explore the use of e-cigarettes in smokers and their effect on quitting smoking, researchers publishing in the American Journal of Public Health have reported that smokers who had ever used e-cigarettes were less likely to quit smoking than those who had never used e-cigarettes. read more

expert reaction to surveys of e-cigarette use in teenagers

Researchers publishing in the BMJ Open have surveyed a group of school-age children in Wales to examine habits around use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The study reports that regular smokers were more likely than non-smokers to use e-cigarettes, and that around 1.5% of those sampled regularly used of e-cigarettes. read more

expert reaction to depression, diabetes and dementia

As depression and diabetes are individually thought to be risk factors for dementia, a team of researchers has investigated the effects of having both depression and diabetes. Publishing in JAMA Psychiatry, the researchers report that the risk of developing dementia is greater for people with both depression and diabetes than would be expected by simple addition of the individual risks for each disease. read more

expert reaction to arginine and Alzheimer’s

A paper published in The Journal of Neuroscience has analysed the profiles of chemicals involved in immune signalling in mice which are used as a model of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers report that the disease is associated with an immunosuppressive pattern, in contrast to previous views which see the disease driven by immunity and inflammation. The study also reports low levels of a particular component of proteins in the brains of affected mice, and drugs which countered this also reduced measures of the disease and and presence of immunosuppressive cells. read more

expert reaction to dementia and body mass index

A study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal has investigated a link between BMI and risk of dementia in a group of people in the UK aged over 40. The authors report an inverse correlation between BMI and dementia risk, contrary to previous suggestions. read more

sexual offending and heritability

In the wake of many high profile stories of sex offences in the news, there has been much speculation and debate around what factors contribute to the likelihood of individuals committing sexual crimes. Previously, much of the research in this area has focused on environmental factors such as deprived childhoods and alcohol use, rather than possible genetic influences. In a large population study using data from Sweden, researchers from the University of Oxford and the Karolinska Institutet have investigated the genetic impact on the risk of sexual offending by looking at the close male relatives of convicted sexual offenders. read more

expert reaction to study investigating fruit and vegetables, pesticides and semen quality

A study published in the journal Human Reproduction has examined a potential link between consumption of fruit and vegetables containing pesticide residues and semen quality. The authors suggest that the consumption of high levels of pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower overall sperm count and lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm among men visiting a fertility clinic. read more

expert reaction to study on e-cigarette use by teenagers

A new study in the journal BMC Public Health surveyed over 16,000 14-17 year-olds in North West England and asked participants about their alcohol and tobacco-related behaviors. The authors report that one in five had used e-cigarettes, and that they observed a link between alcohol consumption and the likelihood of e-cigarette access. read more

expert reaction to study on antibiotic use and type 2 diabetes

A study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology has examined what effect the use of antibiotics might have on the incidence of diabetes. The authors report that in a UK cohort of patients, treatment with one course of antibiotics didn’t significantly alter risk of developing diabetes, but use of more than one course of specific antibiotics was associated with an increased incidence of developing type 2 diabetes. read more

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