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The Science Media Centre is not restricted to reacting to the headlines, and has helped scientists to more proactively set the agenda by bringing new science or evidence to journalists. This comes from our regular briefings, which take a variety of forms and cover a wide range of topics. Many are background briefings introducing journalists to the best experts and science on controversial issues like nuclear waste, nanotechnology, emerging diseases, or animal research, for example. They may also be news briefings where the SMC works with scientists to give the national media a new story on developments within science, whether it’s a report on climate change, a paper on stem cells being published in a leading journal, or science funding cuts in the latest budget. In addition, the SMC encourages leading experts to ‘speak out’ to the media about developments they believe may pose a threat to scientific research – not something science has been renowned for.

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

using ketamine for depression

In the search for new treatments for depression the spotlight has fallen on the class B drug ketamine. Experts came to the SMC to talk about the first UK research which investigates its safety and efficacy in a small trial and the implications of their findings. read more

ALSPAC – smoking dads and fat sons

We hear a lot about effects on children of the experiences and choices made by their pregnant mothers – but what about their dads? A new study published in the European Journal of Human Genetics investigates links between smoking in boys and men, and BMI and fat mass of their children. read more

future cities

The combined pressures of a bigger and older population, a changing climate and the need for a low-carbon economy will … read more

UK climate impacts

The publication date of the next instalment of the IPCC Assessment Report – Working Group 2: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability is Monday 31st March 2014. Scientists came to the SMC to put the UK’s situation into the context of a warming world. read more

Council for Science and Technology new report on GM

The Council for Science and Technology, the body that advises the Prime Minister on science policy issues, asked a group of independent scientists to produce a report which records the progress of the first generation of GM crops, the potential applications coming through the pipeline and the regulatory challenges. read more

engineering a way out of the flooding

As the impact of winter flooding becomes clear, senior engineers and academics came to the SMC to talk about what engineering can (and can’t) do to prevent and reduce the impact of flooding in the UK. read more

biomarkers for depression

Around 1 in 6 people suffer from major depressive disorder at some point in their lives. Currently there is no way to predict the at-risk groups, but researchers at the University of Cambridge have been attempting to find biomarkers for use in adolescents. read more

the science of flooding

Hydrologists and geologists working at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) came to … read more

EU rules are denying children new cancer drugs

Current EU rules do not incentivise pharmaceutical companies to test cancer drugs in children, even though some childhood cancers have similar genetic and biochemical properties to some adult cancers. The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), is calling for changes to the current system in the EU, to encourage pharma companies to test more of their drugs in children. read more

CBT for schizophrenia

Treatments for mental health have had a bumpy ride. Many people do not trust the drugs, whilst the evidence for non-pharmaceutical therapies can be very varied. Publishing in The Lancet, UK researchers have investigated whether Cognitive Therapy (also known as CBT) is a viable alternative therapy. read more

solar power for CO2 mitigation

Energy from the sun is clean, free and practically limitless. Solar power represents a vast resource which could, in principle, meet the world’s needs for low-carbon power generation many times over. But how much of the world’s electricity might realistically be supplied from the sun? And how far can solar power help us to reduce carbon emissions? read more

premature deaths from traumatic brain injuries

With Michael Schumacher’s accident and recent debates over concussed goalkeepers, brain injuries have been constantly in the news. Researchers publishing in JAMA Psychiatry have been investigating the long-term impacts of traumatic brain injuries and what it means for patients. read more

extreme weather and climate change

Heavy rain and storms have lashed the UK in early 2014. Meanwhile the US suffers extreme cold while Australia experiences a heatwave. We often hear that climate change may be causing this extreme weather. But is that really true? read more

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