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roundups & rapid reactions
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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 new report on greenhouse gas emissions

The Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford has published a report into the effects of short-lived climate pollutants such as methane, reporting that reducing their levels would have a mitigating effect on climate change but that this effect would be lower than if carbon dioxide emissions were reduced. read more

expert reaction to study investigating dietary fibre and type 2 diabetes risk

An association between dietary fibre and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes has previously been suggested, and this is the subject of a paper published in the journal Diabetologia. The authors report the results of a study in which increased total dietary fibre intake, especially cereal fibre, was associated with a lower risk of diabetes, and suggest that this might be mediated by a reduction in BMI. read more

expert reaction to phase 3 trial of viral immunotherapy for skin cancer

The use of the body’s immune system to treat cancer has been suggested for some time, and a clinical trial of an immunotherapy against skin cancer is the subject of a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The authors report the use of a virus which targets the cancer directly, but which also brings about an immune response in the patient’s body that fights against the tumour. read more

expert reaction to a study investigating a drug to promote weight loss in mice via formation of brown and beige fat

Different types of fat have different functions in the body and roles in metabolism, and drug which stimulates a specific enzyme involved in metabolism has been reported to protect against weight gain in mice. Publishing in the journal Nature Communications, the authors also report that the drug was able to promote weight loss in obese mice, and to improve aspects of diabetes. read more

expert reaction to study investigating traffic noise and midriff bulge

A link between noise generated by road traffic and other forms of transport, and obesity markers has been explored in a study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine. The authors report that traffic noise was associated with an increase in obesity, and that combined exposure to more than one type of transport noise increased the risk further. read more

expert reaction to study and linked comment piece investigating deaths from cold weather and hot weather

Both hot and cold weather can contribute to premature deaths in different contexts, and scientists publishing in the Lancet journal have attempted to determine the relative contribution of each temperature type. The researchers report that more deaths were caused by cold rather than hot weather, and that extremes had less of an impact than “milder but non-optimal” weather. read more

expert reaction to abstract of research on wine intake and type 2 diabetes

The association between red or white wine intake and the metabolic profiles of those with type 2 diabetes is the subject of a presentation given at the European Congress on Obesity in Prague, with the scientists involved in the presentation reporting that in patients with type 2 diabetes, moderate wine intake as part of a healthy diet could improve markers of metabolic function such as levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol. read more

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