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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 new review on the impact of smoking bans on harms of passive smoking

Passive smoking has long been known to pose a health risk to non-smokers, and efforts to reduce levels of second-hand smoke have seen bans on indoor smoking in public and work places introduced in a number of countries, states, and regions. Publishing in the Cochrane Library a group of scientists have reported that national smoking legislation does reduce the harms of passive smoking and that populations benefit from reduced exposure to passive smoke. read more

expert reaction to antidepressant use and suicidality

The effect of specific types of antidepressants on mortality, suicide and aggressive behaviours is the subject of a paper published in The BMJ in which the authors report an increased risk of suicidality and aggression in children and adolescents taking those dru read more

expert reaction to genetic association to schizophrenia

A study published in the journal Nature has reported an association between varying levels of protein brought about by different forms of a specific gene and schizophrenia in humans. The authors suggest that higher levels of the protein might lead to a number of connections between nerve cells, which is characteristic of individuals with schizophrenia read more

expert reaction to alternative for animals during toxicity testing

Studies which assess the toxicology of new drugs typically have some element of animal testing, and a paper published in the journal Nature Communications has described a method using in vitro tests which are carried out without animals. The authors report that these tests were better than animal models at predicting toxicity of drugs to humans. read more

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