The Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) is an independent, not-for-profit service for the news media, giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise.

We aim to better inform public debate on the major issues of the day by improving links between the media and the scientific community.

EXPERT REACTION: Alzheimer’s drugs announcements from the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)


For immediate release

There’s been a lot of news about Alzheimer’s drugs coming out of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) today, and preliminary results for three different drugs have been presented. Below, experts explain what the different drugs do, what the results of the trials tell us, and what the implications are for Alzheimer’s patients. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Australia dodges global increase in bushfires (Nature Communications)*


EMBARGO LIFTED 01:00 AEST Wednesday 15 July 2015

A US and Australian study has analysed the length of fire seasons around the world for the past 35 years and found close to a 20 per cent increase everywhere, other than Australia. They say the fire seasons were driven by wind, humidity, temperature, and a lack of rain, and the increase might be due to climate change. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Debate article on homeopathy criticises recent NHMRC report (The BMJ)*


EMBARGO LIFTED 08:30 AEST Wednesday 15 July 2015

In a debate piece on whether doctors should offer homeopathy to their patients, Peter Fisher, director of research at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, criticises the NHMRC’s recent report on homeopathy, which suggested the therapy is ineffective, according to the available evidence. He specifically criticises the methodology of the analysis that was performed, and says several available studies were not included. Below, Dr Nik Zeps of UWA, a member of the NHMRC Homeopathy Working Committee, addresses those criticisms.

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BRIEFING: Australia captures world first close-ups of Pluto


EMBARGO LIFTED 00.01 AEST Tuesday 14 July 2015 Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefing
NEWS BRIEFING – Monday 13 July at 11.00am AEST Online

It’s been nine years in the making, but Pluto is finally ready for its close up. At exactly 9:49.57pm (AEST) Tuesday evening NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will make its closest encounter with the dwarf planet. With that, the world will see for the first time what Pluto actually looks like, as the spacecraft flies 12,500 km above the surface, taking detailed measurements and images of the dwarf planet and its moons. CSIRO’s Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC), one of only three tracking stations in NASA’s Deep Space Network, will be the first place on Earth to receive the closest images as they are sent from space. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Death of Harry Messel


Well known Australian physicist and educator, Professor Harry Messel, has died at the age of 93. Below physicists and others comment on Professor Messel as a person and his impact on science in Australia. read more

EXPERT REACTION: New NZ emissions target announced


The NZ Government today announced it’s latest climate target – to cut greenhouse gas emissions back to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 – in anticipation of an international climate agreement. The target was made in preparation for the international climate agreement to be hammered out at COP21 in Paris in November. Countries were asked to publicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). For more information on the NZ target visit the Ministry for the Environment website. Below Australian and NZ experts comment on the new target.  read more

EXPERT REACTION: Agriculture White Paper


The Federal Government released a white paper on Australia’s agricultural competitiveness over the weekend and we asked agricultural researchers and policy experts to review the paper and provide their comments. There is a lot to read so it’s taking time. However, we expect more comments to come in over the next few days. read more

EXPERT REACTION: UNESCO reaches decision on Great Barrier Reef


The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has handed down their final decision on the Great Barrier Reef – deciding not to list the reef on their “in-danger” list. They do however report “that the overall outlook for the property is poor, and that climate change, poor water quality and impacts from coastal development are major threats to the property’s health”. This confirms the findings of a draft report released last month. More information can be seen here: read more

BACKGROUND BRIEFING: Australia’s 2015 flu season


BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Thursday 25 June 2015 at 10:30 am AEST OnlineClick here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

Amid a rise in the number of influenza cases in Australia, indicating the start of the influenza season, experts are warning that Australia is facing a severe flu season this year. The numbers are grim: by the end of May there have been 9132 laboratory-confirmed cases, which represents a 47 per cent increase of influenza cases compared with the same period last year. So what does the upcoming ‘horror’ flu season mean for Australians? Join us for this online briefing, as three experts take us through what’s expected.

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BACKGROUND BRIEFING: Getting your head around MERS


BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Wednesday 24 June 2015 at 11:00 am AEST OnlineClick here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

The World Health Organization is yet to declare it a worldwide public health emergency, but officials are being warned to stay alert, as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak continues to spread through South Korea. 172 cases of the disease are now confirmed, with the death toll rising to 27 on Monday. The disease has also jumped borders with Thailand becoming the fourth Asian country to register a case, after South Korea, China and the Philippines. So what is MERS, where did it come from and should Australia be worried? Join us as two infectious disease experts discuss the latest in MERS news. read more