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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.

TB vaccines- why are they so hard to develop?

16 years ago, there were no new TB vaccines being tested in clinical trials, despite a huge global burden of disease. Over the last 16 years there has been significant progress and we now have a pipeline of ~12 candidates being tested in human clinical trials. read more

UK first – Results of genome editing in human embryos

Last year, Kathy Niakan, a developmental biologist at the Francis Crick Institute, was the first UK scientist to be given the go-ahead by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to use genome-editing techniques on human embryos. Kathy’s research aims to understand aspects of the basic biology of early human embryo development and the role of specific genes. read more

low-dose ionising radiation – how safe is it?

People have always been exposed to ionising radiation, and more so in modern life thanks to its uses in medicine, industry and the military. The health risks from medium- and high-level radiation are relatively well-understood, but the risks at low levels are debated, and mixed messages about safety from different sources are confusing for both the public and for policy makers. read more

hacking the immune system, bioelectronics and the mind-body interface

It is still controversial to say that the mind and body can strongly affect each other, but recent research has shown how the mind can impact on physical diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes and there is growing excitement in how the immune system may have a role in some mental illness. read more

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