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Brainiac star joins Cancer Research UK on hunt for budding journalists

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by Cancer Research UK | News

5 March 2007

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Cancer Research UK is seeking out a new generation of science writers as it launches its second annual national science writing competition.

The charity is asking students aged 14-16 to pen a 300-word news story about a recent medical or health-related advance that has intrigued or excited them.

The competition will be judged by an eclectic panel, including Brainiac presenter and past Big Brother contestant Jon Tickle, as well as Tim Radford, former science editor of the Guardian and Professor Fran Balkwill, a Cancer Research UK scientist who has also written a number of children’s books explaining science.

Jon Tickle made his name during the fourth series of Big Brother, but is now better known as co-presenter of Brainiac: Science Abuse, which takes a fun look at everyday science. He said of the competition: “Science is something that has always fascinated me so I’m thrilled to have been asked to help judge this competition. Why not have a crack at making science fun and interesting in a way that doesn’t involve blowing things up!”

Competition organiser Josephine Querido, a science information officer at Cancer Research UK said: “We’re looking for a wide range of entries about any sort of medical or health advance – stories don’t have to be limited to cancer research. Students could write about new treatments that are being developed to relieve the symptoms of asthma, or technology that is helping blind people to regain some of their sight. They may also want to discuss the research around whether ‘nasty’ images on cigarette packets are the best way to encourage people to stop smoking.”

The competition winner will receive a year’s subscription to the monthly science and technology magazine BBC Focus. They will also have the opportunity to spend a day with the Cancer Research UK press office, finding out what goes on behind the headlines, and get to record their story for the Cancer Research UK podcast. Science goody bags, including a science book and Top Trumps, will be up for grabs for runners-up. All winning entries will be published on the Youth and Schools section of the Cancer Research UK website.

Josephine Querido added: “People have a huge appetite for science and health related news and we’re always looking for new ways to present it. We’ve launched the SciNews competition to find the best science writing out there. Good science communication is crucial to the role of Cancer Research UK – this is what the judges will be looking out for, as well as creativity, a nice writing style and relevance to the target audience.”

To enter the competition, students should log on to SciNews. Here, they can access the easy online form as well as ideas and inspiration from Cancer Research UK’s team of science writers.

Entries can be submitted from Friday 9 March and the competition will run for seven weeks. To meet the deadline, students must make sure they have submitted their copy by Friday 30 April, and the winners will be notified shortly afterwards.

The launch of the competition coincides with National Science and Engineering Week, which runs from 9-18 March 2007. This annual event aims to celebrate science and its importance to people’s lives, providing an opportunity for people of all ages across the UK to take part in science, engineering and technology activities.


For media enquiries please contact Emma Gilgunn-Jones on 020 7061 8311 or,out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.