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roundups & rapid reactions
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

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 or 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 cannabis vaping using e-cigarettes

Cannabis is a class B drug in the UK but is in use for therapeutic purposes in a number of countries for various diseases, and a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports has reported that e-cigarette devices could be effective in administering therapeutic doses of the drug. read more

expert reaction to antibiotics and methane from cows

Agriculture contributes a large amount to greenhouse gase emissions and climate change from a range of sources and a research group publishing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal has reported that antibiotics (used to improve livestock health and growth) can increase methane emissions. read more

expert reaction to statement on surgical intervention in the treatment of type 2 diabetes

New guidelines published in the journal Diabetes Care recommend that surgery be considered a standard option for appropriate candidates with type 2 diabetes, including in mildly obese people, and they call for health care regulators to introduce appropriate reimbursement policies. To date guidelines have been formally endorsed by 45 worldwide medical and scientific societies. read more

expert reaction to global study on low salt diets

Publishing in The Lancet, a group of researchers have reported that high sodium intake is associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular events and death in hypertensive populations but not in normotensive populations. read more

expert reaction to study examining efficacy of mitochondrial donation techniques

Legislation which allows the replacement of faulty mitochondria in eggs of mothers with mitochondrial disorders has been passed in the UK, and a paper published in the journal Cell Stem Cell has explored the efficacy of such techniques. The authors report levels of mitochondrial carryover from the original egg which they suggest could have functional significance. read more

expert reaction to bisphenol-A and obesity

A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives has examined exposure to bisphenol-A in the womb and early childhood and report an association with increased weight at age 7. read more

expert reaction to psilocybin and treatment-resistant depression

Psilocybin, the active component of magic mushrooms, is being seriously considered as a therapy for people with treatment-resistant depression. Publishing in The Lancet Psychiatry journal a group researchers have now gone on to test the safety of psilocybin in a small group of patients with treatment-resistant depression. read more

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