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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 DECC biomass calculator

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) have launched a scientific calculator that investigates the impact on carbon emissions of biomass sourced from North America to produce electricity. read more

expert reaction to final NICE guidance on cardiovascular disease and statin use

NICE published its final updated guidance on starting preventive treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) advising that the threshold for starting treatment should be halved from a 20% risk of developing CVD over 10 years to a 10% risk, and that once lifestyle factors have been addressed high intensity statin therapy should be offered. read more

expert reaction to two reviews on asthma and children’s growth

Two systematic reviews published in The Cochrane Library looked at the effects of inhaled corticosteroid drugs, given by inhalers to children with asthma, on growth rates, reporting growth slowed in the first year of treatment but effects were minimised by using lower doses. read more

expert reaction to whether labelling people with moderate blood glucose levels as having ‘pre-diabetes’ is helpful

Authors of an analysis article in the BMJ argued that diagnosing patients with moderately high blood sugar as having pre-diabetes is unhelpful and unnecessary, reporting that blood sugar reduction treatments resulting from a diagnosis of pre-diabetes delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes only by few years and there was no evidence of long-term health benefits. read more

expert reaction to cannabis and paranoia

A study in Schizophrenia Bulletin of the effects of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, reported strong evidence that it can cause short-term paranoia and identified psychological factors that can lead to feelings of paranoia in cannabis users. read more

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