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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 treatment for autism in children

Autism is a severe developmental disorder that affects 1 in 100 children with no treatment that has succeeded in improving these core developmental symptoms over the long-term. Researchers publishing in The Lancet are reporting the long-term results of an intervention with families early in development that may begin to change our expectations. read more

expert reaction to study looking at soft drinks and diabetes

Publishing in the European Journal of Endocrinology a group a scientists have examined the effect of sweetened drinks on latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) and report that increased consumption was associated with an increased risk of the disease. read more

expert reaction to mouse study of gene therapy for Alzheimer’s disease

A group of scientists have described their use of a specific gene therapy to treat Alzheimer’s disease in a mouse model. Publishing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the scientists report that the upregulation of the PGC-1α gene brought about reduced biological markers of the disease and improved function in the mice. read more

expert reaction to review of the health effects of natural alternatives to oestrogen therapy

A review of published evidence on the health effects of plant-derived compounds (phytoestrogens) similar in structure to oestrogen is published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. The review reported that, when used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy, phytostrogens had the potential for harmful effects which are not at this stage outweighed by the health benefits. read more

expert reaction to a study looking at semen quality of adult ICSI offspring

A group of researchers have examined the sperm quality of the world’s oldest group of young men conceived by of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) fertility treatment and report their results in the journal Human Reproduction. The authors report that sperm quantity and quality of these man was lower than average. read more

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