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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 study and linked comment piece investigating deaths from cold weather and hot weather

Both hot and cold weather can contribute to premature deaths in different contexts, and scientists publishing in the Lancet journal have attempted to determine the relative contribution of each temperature type. The researchers report that more deaths were caused by cold rather than hot weather, and that extremes had less of an impact than “milder but non-optimal” weather. read more

paracetamol use in pregnancy and testosterone levels in unborn boys

Paracetamol is the most common pain and fever relief medicine used by pregnant women, but previous observational studies have suggested a possible link between prolonged use during pregnancy and reproductive issues in young boys. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have investigated the effects of paracetamol use on levels of testosterone in foetuses in a series of experiments using mice with human tissue grafts. read more

the El Niño Southern Oscillation

El Niño takes place in the Pacific Ocean and has the power to affect weather patterns around the world; an especially intense El Niño event is thought to be partly responsible for the famously high surface temperatures of 1998. Scientists are in broad agreement that an El Niño this year is underway, but its effects are notoriously hard to predict. read more

the long-term impacts of childhood bullying

Traditionally childhood bullying has been seen by many as a common and almost inevitable part of growing up, with lasting consequences fortunately happening rarely. However, there has been growing evidence of long-term impacts that can last far into adulthood. Now researchers have assessed whether there are not only psychological impacts, but also physical ones – specifically in relation to obesity and inflammation. read more

single motherhood and health in later life

Publishing in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, researchers have attempted to examine an association between being a single mother and possible poor health later in life. They report that single mothers were at risk of poorer health, but that this risk varied between countries. read more

clinical research with children: ethical issues

Without well-conducted medical research with children, our understanding of childhood disorders and evidence base for treatments will remain limited. The benefits of research can be seen in areas such as childhood leukemia, but overall, health research with children lags behind that with adults. In everyday practice, doctors still need to prescribe medicines that are often only tested in adults. Despite this, researchers and parents are worried about asking children to take part in research because of ethical and practical concerns. Following a two year inquiry, which has heard from hundreds of children and parents, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics is publishing its report, ‘Children and clinical research: ethical issues’. read more

gene editing of human embryos

As some in science circles have been predicting, gene-editing techniques which are already widely used in plants and animals have now been applied to human embryos. In what is thought to be a world first, Chinese scientists used CRISPR/Cas9 to modify the DNA of human embryos, thereby attracting global headlines about science fiction becoming science fact, as well as warnings about slippery slopes and designer babies. read more

expert reaction to abstract of research on wine intake and type 2 diabetes

The association between red or white wine intake and the metabolic profiles of those with type 2 diabetes is the subject of a presentation given at the European Congress on Obesity in Prague, with the scientists involved in the presentation reporting that in patients with type 2 diabetes, moderate wine intake as part of a healthy diet could improve markers of metabolic function such as levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol. read more

expert reaction to new research on exceptionally warm years in England

The weather in central England is the focus of research published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The authors report an increase in the likelihood of exceptionally warm years in the region, and attribute some of the blame for these changes in climate to the influence of human activities. read more

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