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: Climate change a major threat to global health (The Lancet)*


EMBARGO LIFTED 09:00 AEST Tuesday  23 June 2015

The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last fifty years of gains in development and global health, according to a new Climate Health Commission report authored by international experts. However the silver lining is that it also presents new evidence suggesting that the health benefits of climate mitigation and adaptation – from reducing air pollution to improving diet – represent one of the greatest opportunities to improve global health this century. read more

BRIEFING: Should Australia embrace a nuclear future? Yes v. No


BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Tuesday 16 June 2015 at 12noon AEST Online Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

Nuclear power is a divisive issue around the world. On one hand it’s touted by some as the answer to climbing greenhouse gas emissions, while on the other, questions still remain over the experiences of Fukushima and Chernobyl. In Australia, owner of the largest uranium reserves in the world, the divide is no different. Some states are looking to embrace it, with South Australia setting up a royal commission earlier in the year to investigate what role it could play in the nuclear fuel cycle. While other states, such as Queensland, look set to avoid it. read more

NEWS BRIEFING: Do the ‘baby blues’ begin before pregnancy? (The Lancet*)


EMBARGO LIFTED 09:00 AEST Thursday 11 June, 2015Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

A new Australian study being released this week challenges the old idea that perinatal depression – depression that occurs either during pregnancy or after the birth of a baby – is due to hormonal changes during pregnancy and therefore different to other types of depression experienced during a woman’s life.

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EXPERT REACTION: Global warming ‘slowdown’ an illusion created by bad data (Science)*


The most recent climate observations from around the world suggests the much-talked-about global warming ‘slowdown’ during the first fifteen years of the 21st century didn’t actually happen at all, but was an illusion created by inaccurate data. Scientists from the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say thousands of updated and corrected temperature observations show that temperatures did not plateau – the rate of warming has been at least as high as that seen in the last half of the 20th century.

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EXPERT REACTION: Benefits outweigh harms for breast cancer screening (New England Journal of Medicine)*


EMBARGOED LIFTED 07:00 AEST Thursday 04 June 2015

An international review of breast cancer screening has found the benefits outweigh the harms for women aged between 50 and 74. The review, which looked at 40 studies conducted in high-income countries, including Australia, found women aged between 50 and who attended mammography screening were around 40 per cent less likely to die of breast cancer, with several studies showing screening in women aged 70-74 also reduced mortality. However, the authors say there is not enough evidence to determine whether screening reduces mortality in women aged 40 to 49 years. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Tackling the antibiotic apocalypse – Government releases National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy


The Australian Government has released a new national strategy aimed at reducing the threat of antibiotic resistance. The National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy addresses the overuse and over-prescription of antibiotics, which has led to a decrease in their effectiveness as disease-causing bacteria become resistant. The national strategy follows on from a global action plan released by the World Health Organization last month. read more

EXPERT REACTION: New study shows sharks are not so primitive after all (PLOS ONE)*


EMBARGO LIFTED 04.00 AEST Friday 29 May 2015

Australian researchers have found a well preserved three-dimensional fossil of a 380 million year old shark in the Gogo formation in Western Australia. While it is commonly believed that sharks are primitive creatures with cartilage that never evolved into bone, the ancient fossil remains contain both bone and cartilage indicating that sharks evolved from bony ancestors. The development of cartilage is likely to have given modern sharks a competitive advantage as cartilage is lighter and more flexible than bone.

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BRIEFING: Get in quick: clinical trial supports early HIV treatment


EMBARGO LIFTED 05.00 AEST Thursday 28 May 2015Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

NEWS BRIEFING – Tuesday 26 May at 12:00 noon AEST Online

An international HIV treatment trial has been terminated after interim results provided conclusive evidence that immediate treatment of HIV is superior to the current practice of deferring treatment among people with HIV infection. These findings have global implications for the treatment of people living with HIV, as we now know that treatment at all stages of disease extends survival and prevents serious disease complications. Together with data from previous studies showing reduced risk of HIV transmission among people on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), our speaker will discuss how the clinical trial findings are critical in supporting treatment for victims of HIV at any stage infection, and accordingly, will influence treatment regimens for the HIV virus worldwide.

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BRIEFING: Going off grid – is Tesla’s Powerwall revolutionary, or just hype?


BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Thursday May 21 at 09:30 AEST onlineClick here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

Electric car company Tesla recently launched a battery to power homes, Powerwall, and the firm has made some bold claims about its potential. The battery, says Tesla, would allow solar panel-equipped homes to go ‘off grid’, enable zero emission power generation and bring power to areas of the world that lack traditional electricity infrastructure. But do these claims stand up? Join us for this online briefing, when leading Australian experts will assess Tesla’s claim that its batteries will revolutionise the way we use electricity. read more

BRIEFING: NHMRC releases lead report


EMBARGO LIFTED 14.00 AEST Tuesday 19 May 2015Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

NEWS BRIEFING – Tuesday 19 May at 13:00 AEST Online

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will tomorrow release a Statement and Information Paper summarising the evidence on the effects of lead on human health. The review found no noticeable health effects in blood lead levels less than 10 micrograms per decilitre, but the NHMRC recommends anyone with a blood lead level greater than 5 micrograms per decilitre investigate the source of exposure. This review was overseen by NHMRC’s Lead Working Committee which comprised experts in public and environmental health, toxicology, paediatrics and consumer issues. The statement updates previous work released for public consultation last year and replaces a 2009 information paper. Join us in this online briefing where experts discuss the latest findings. read more