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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 as much information to journalists 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


nitrogen pollution, climate and land use: why what we eat matters

A new report on nitrogen and food, to be published in May by the ‘Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen’ of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, calculates what would happen if Europe were to decrease its consumption of meat and dairy products. Some of the report’s authors came to the SMC to describe their findings. read more


This factsheet is also available as a pdf.   Definition Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterised by disturbances in thinking … read more

expert reaction to brain imaging and vegetative states

Researchers publishing in The Lancet reported using positron emission tomography (PET), a brain imaging technique, in clinical practice to determine which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness. read more

expert reaction to cannabis and potential brain abnormalities

Researchers in the US found a correlation between casual use of cannabis and the size, shape, and structure of brain regions involved with motivation, emotion and reward in a small sample of young adults. The report was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. read more

expert reaction to glucose and aggression in married couples

A PNAS study of married couples reported that decreased blood glucose altered the way participants acted in activities such as sticking pins into a doll representing their spouse. The authors suggested low blood glucose is therefore correlated with increased aggressive behaviour between married couples. read more

salt reduction and health

Researchers publishing in BMJ Open report the 15% fall in dietary salt intake over the past decade in England is likely to have had a key role in the 40% drop in deaths from heart disease and stroke over the same period. read more

expert reaction to IPCC AR5 WG3

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its third and final report of the current series, looking at strategies for mitigating global warming and recommending a rapid move away from fossil fuels. read more

Tamiflu and Relenza for treatment and prevention of influenza

The Cochrane Collaboration published an evidence review of Tamiflu (the antiviral drug oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) trials, reporting that Tamiflu shortens symptoms of influenza but other claims made for the drugs were not well supported by evidence from clinical study reports. read more

wind energy: what are the limits?

The Royal Academy of Engineering’s new report, Wind energy: implications of large-scale deployment on the UK energy system, assesses the potential for wind energy to help meet the government‘s own target of 15% of the UK’s energy from renewable sources by 2020 and 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. read more

new study on effectiveness of Tamiflu and Relenza

Authors of the latest updated ‘Cochrane Review: Neuraminidase inhibitors for preventing and treating influenza in healthy adults and children’ came came to the SMC to outline their findings about the effectiveness of Tamilflu and Relenza. read more

paying heroin addicts to be vaccinated

Around ¼ million people in the UK are injecting drug users and it is estimated that 50 – 60,000 of them are infected with hepatitis B (HBV), which can cause liver cancer or cirrhosis in chronic carriers of the virus. Researchers, publishing in The Lancet, have been assessing the benefit of paying heroin addicts to be vaccinated for HBV. read more

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