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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 acupuncture and mild cognitive impairment

Researchers publishing in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine have conducted a meta-analysis of five trials and report that acupuncture appears to be effective for the treatment of a pre-dementia condition (amnestic mild cognitive impairment) though they caution that the studies in question had low methodological quality. read more

expert reaction to genetic associations for major depressive disorder

A group of researchers have attempted to find genetic markers of major depressive disorder by using samples from patients with self-reported diagnosis. Publishing in the journal Nature Genetics the team report a number of markers which they say are associated with self-reporting of clinical diagnosis or treatment for depression. read more

expert reaction to study looking at BMI and incidence of heart attacks, type 2 diabetes and death in identical twins

The contribution of genetics and obesity to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and death is evaluated in a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Through their analysis of monozygotic twins with varying body mass indexes (BMI) the researchers report that higher BMI was not associated with increased risk of heart attack or death but was associated with the onset of diabetes. read more

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