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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 study reviewing the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as an aid to stopping smoking

Researchers publishing in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews journal have analysed randomised controlled trials in which the efficacy of e-cigarettes to aid smoking cessation was analysed. They report that e-cigarettes have a beneficial effect in terms of smoking cessation, and that they found no evidence of a health risk associated with short-term e-cigarette use. read more

expert reaction to insulin for type 2 diabetes and risk of death

A paper published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism explored an association between treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes with insulin, and risk of death. They report an increased incidence of mortality, major adverse cardiovascular events, and cancer in those treated with insulin, and suggest their results warrant further study. read more

expert reaction to male fruit fly diets and obesity in their offspring

Researchers studying the effects of the paternal diet of male fruit flies on the metabolic epigenetic and phenotypic profiles of their offspring have published their findings in the journal Cell. They report that short-term changes to sugar intake of the father were able to influence obesity of future offspring. read more

expert reaction to 2014 temperature data from the WMO

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has said that 2014 is likely to be one of, if not the hottest year on record. This is the case for the UK and on a global scale, and they say that this is in part due to high global sea temperatures. read more

expert reaction to Mediterranean diet and telomere length

A study published in The BMJ has explored a link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and the length of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes, which have in the past been associated with ageing. They report that telomeres were longer in those with greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet. read more

expert reaction to reversing common form of autism in mice

A study published in the journal Cell Reports has suggested that increased levels of a specific protein can lead to outcomes which are similar to those seen in fragile X syndrome (FXS). FXS is a genetic cause of autism, and the paper reports that the levels of the protein in question can be controlled by modification of a second protein. read more

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