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roundups & rapid reactions

Rapid Reactions: responding to breaking news. The demands of the 24-hour media machine mean that news journalists often don’t have the luxury of time to track down the best scientists when a science story lands on their desks, so availability can sometimes win out over expertise. This is where the Science Media Centre steps in. When a story breaks – whether it’s the latest flu epidemic, health scare or a potential nuclear crisis – the SMC persuades leading experts to drop everything and engage with the story, then contacts journalists at all the major news outlets to offer those experts for interviews or immediate comment.


Roundups: putting new research into context. One of the other ways the SMC ensures that the media have easy access to scientists and their views is by offering journalists a variety of comments from scientists reacting to the latest research. This service differs from our ‘Rapid Reactions’ as scientists have time to react before new research is announced, rather than in response to breaking news.

With access to embargoed journals before publication, we can pick stories of most interest to journalists, asking third party experts to provide comments and information to put research into context before it appears in the media. The SMC’s unique Roundups help busy journalists critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of new research, and highlight when studies are very preliminary or display a correlation that should not be read as causation. Equally, when leading scientists are excited about a significant study this can reassure journalists that the study should feature strongly in their coverage.

expert reaction to study on mitochondrial replacement in human ooctyes that carry pathogenic mitochondrial dna mutations

Researchers, publishing in the journal Nature, have reported on a study which used mitochondrial donation therapy to replace pathogenic mitochondrial DNA mutations in human ooctyes with mitochondrial DNA from healthy donor eggs. The researchers report the potential of mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) to reduce the transfer of mitochondrial disease from mother to child. read more

expert reaction to fourth scientific review of the safety and efficacy of methods to avoid mitochondrial disease through assisted conception

An independent expert panel, convened by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), have published their fourth scientific review into the latest evidence on the safety and efficacy of mitochondrial donation techniques, recommending that those techniques be approved for “cautious use” in “specific circumstances”. These comments accompanied a press briefing. read more

expert reaction to media coverage of ivf add-ons

In a paper published in BMJ Open, researchers looked at claims of benefit for interventions offered by fertility centres in the UK via the information on the centres’ websites. They then looked at what evidence was cited for these claims. They report that while many fertility centres in the UK offer a range of IVF add-on procedures, and provide claims of benefit for many of these interventions, in most cases the claims are not quantified and evidence is not cited to support them.
The Panorama documentary on BBC One (Panorama: Inside Britain’s Fertility Business) also looks at this issue. read more

expert reaction to safeguarding pollinators

Published in Nature, this review looks into the values of different pollinators on issues including food secutiry and biodiversity, their status and trends, risks from environmental pressures and the consequent management and policy response options to safeguard pollinators.

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