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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 biomarkers for CFS/ME

A paper published in the journal Science Advances has reported the presence of a specific biomarker signature in patients early in the course of CFS/ME, which was not seen in patients with a longer duration of the illness or in healthy individuals. The biomarkers relate to immune signalling messengers. read more

expert reaction to study on dietary emulsifying agents and inflammation in mice

Researchers publishing in the journal Nature have examined the possibility of emulsifying agents, which are present in a range of food, contributing to adverse health effects. The authors report that in mice, the addition of two emulsifiers to their diet led to changes in the bacterial makeup of the gut as well as inflammation and related metabolic disorders, which they suggest is due to a reduction in the protective mucus barrier which lines the gut. read more

expert reaction to violence and depression

Writing in the Lancet Psychiatry, researchers have published their results of an analysis of a possible link between depression and violent crime in Sweden. They report that people with depressive symptoms were three times more likely to commit violent offences than those who had not been diagnosed with depression, and suggest that their results should be taken into account in clinical guidelines. read more

expert reaction to two studies on genes, obesity and fat distribution

Two papers published in the journal Nature have reported the importance of several regions in the human genome as being important in the distribution of fat in the body, as well as for obesity. These include genes involved in metabolism and the nervous system, and the researchers suggest that these might be useful in the future as a focus for targeting disease. read more

expert reaction to unemployment linked with deaths by suicide

A study published in the The Lancet Psychiatry journal has looked at trends in suicide around the world, and a unemployment rates. The research team analysed data from 2000-2011 and report that overall suicide rates fell, and that suicides associated with unemployment generally were higher than for those associated with the recent economic downturn. read more

expert reaction to study looking at historic UK and US dietary advice on fats

Researchers have published a review in the journal Open Heart, into the evidence around dietary fat, cholesterol and coronary heart disease published before 1983. They conclude that based on the studies which they analysed, dietary recommendations which were introduced in the UK in 1983 were not supported by the evidence. read more

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