Sarah Harrop

Freelance science writer and editor

United Kingdom

I'm a freelance science writer and editor with two decades’ experience of communicating about science. My recent clients have included universities, publicly funded research organisations and biotech companies.

Before taking the plunge into freelancing, I worked in the University sector and - for nearly a decade - at the UK Medical Research Council (UKRI) where I edited the MRC's magazine, wrote and produced its Annual Review and contributed to its podcast, blog and website. I've also worked in industry, within the drug information team at Thomson Reuters, and I've dabbled in travel writing, winning the Guardian Young Travel Writer of the Year award.

I have a BSc in biological sciences from Sheffield University and a journalism qualification from University of London Birkbeck College.

Schmidt Science Fellows
Breakthrough Could Cut Daily Diabetes Injections to Just Three Times A Year

Stanford University scientists led by 2020 Schmidt Science Fellow Dr. Andrea d'Aquino have tested their drug-loaded hydrogel in type-2 diabetic rats. Just one injection under the skin provided sustained delivery of the widely used diabetes drug semaglutide, controlling the rats' blood sugar over 42 days in the same manner as daily injections.

University of Reading
University of Reading Research Awards - shortlisted projects

The University of Reading Research Engagement and Impact Awards recognise and reward staff who have achieved extraordinary things by engaging with people outside academia to drive better understanding of research and to influence change.

Taylor & Francis Newsroom
Trust in Cancer Information Declined Among Black Americans During the Pandemic

Trust in information given out by the government on cancer fell sharply among the Black population during the COVID-19 pandemic, findings of a national US study have shown. Experts are warning the vital need to monitor if this mistrust has persisted beyond the pandemic and whether it could potentially cause an upsurge [...]

Taylor & Francis Newsroom
Confidence in Vaccines has Plummeted in Africa Since the Pandemic - Study Across Eight Countries...

Public confidence in vaccines has plunged across sub-Saharan Africa since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study of 17,000 people, across eight countries, published today in the peer-reviewed journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. The findings come as the World Health Organization and UNICEF have reported the largest sustained fall in uptake of routine childhood immunizations [...]

Taylor & Francis Newsroom
Children who tell the blunt truth, as opposed to lying, are judged more harshly by adults

New findings, out today, suggest children who tell blunt truths such as "I don't want this present - it's ugly!" are judged more harshly by adults than those who bend the truth to be polite or protect others. Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Moral Education, the research demonstrates the mixed messages that adults are [...]

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
Identifying severe side effect of Covid-19 vaccine

Professor Marie Scully was one of the two first clinicians in the UK to spot a rare new blood clotting syndrome, VITT, linked with the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID vaccine. Scully and team rapidly reviewed cases of VITT to discover its cause, published their findings and alerted the regulatory authorities. Their actions flagged the syndrome and how to diagnose and treat it to clinicians worldwide, preventing deaths and changing UK vaccination policy for younger adults.

UCL Research Impact Hub
Restoring forgotten ponds to boost biodiversity and shape conservation policy

Professor Carl Sayer’s research has shown that restoring the UK’s forgotten and neglected farmland ponds, even those filled in 150 years ago, can bring back biodiversity. This evidence has restored life to hundreds of ponds, changed farmland management and made pond restoration a critical part of the nation’s nature conservation strategy.

UCL Research Impact Hub
First ever black hole image inspires public interest in astrophysics

Until recently, nobody had ever seen a black hole and the only way to prove their existence was indirectly. All of that changed in 2019, when the first ever image of one was created by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), developed by a team of 60 institutes - including UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) - with the aim of transforming our understanding of black holes.

UCL Research Impact Hub
Protecting rough sleepers during the pandemic

UCL research and guidance informed England’s largest ever health-led action on homelessness, preventing 20,000 COVID-19 infections during the pandemic’s first wave and housing 33,000 vulnerable people.

UCL Research Impact Hub
Empowering citizens to record Britain's disappearing coastal archaeology

The acclaimed Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN) is led by UCL honorary lecturer Dr Gustav Milne. CITiZAN featured on the popular Channel 4 series 'Britain at Low Tide', raising public awareness of threats to coastal heritage, and the project's data collection efforts have contributed to erosion damage mitigation.

UCL Research Impact Hub
Big data insights on heart disease help millions to live longer, healthier lives

Harnessing the unique power of large-scale patient data, Professor Harry Hemingway (UCL Institute of Health Informatics) has gained important new insights into some of the world's biggest causes of death worldwide: high blood pressure, coronary disease, atrial fibrillation and heart attack.

UCL Research Impact Hub
Improving care for stroke patients in the UK

UCL research led by Professor Naomi Fulop has changed to the way UK hospital stroke services are organised, improving care for 20,000 stroke patients and saving 68 lives each year.

UCL Research Impact Hub
Increasing public understanding of solar physics

UCL’s research and ongoing engagement with the Met Office have helped transform the organisation to be a global influencer in space weather and inspired hundreds of people to study physics.

UCL Research Impact Hub
UCL-led survey helps shape UK sexual health policy

The National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), carried out every decade by a UCL-led team, have helped shape UK sexual health policy, notably around chlamydia, HPV and HIV.

UCL Research Impact Hub
Helping thousands of toddlers in low-income countries reach their potential

Around 250 million young children living in poverty in low- and middle-income countries do not reach their full developmental potential because of poverty, poor nutrition, and a lack of psychosocial stimulation - the sights, sounds, play and emotional connection provided through an affectionate caregiver-child bond.

NIHR (National Institute for Health Research)
Drug targeting gut hormones could turn tide on obesity

Obesity and its effect on health is a global crisis, but to date there have been no safe, effective weight loss drugs. UCL's Professor Rachel Batterham has led two decades of research to develop a breakthrough gut hormone-based drug called semaglutide that reduces food intake.

Better risk prediction saves lives

Lives can be extended and harm avoided if ‘at risk’ patients can be identified as they are admitted to hospital. UCLH multidisciplinary teams have developed screening tools to spot people at high risk of heart attack, sepsis, psychological harm and serious complications after surgery. These tools have been incorporated into several national clinical guidelines, changing many thousands of patient outcomes for the better.

New treatment for life-threatening blood disorder

UCLH clinical trials have proven that a new nanobody therapy, Caplacizumab, can shorten treatment of the life-threatening blood clotting disease; Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (iTTP), from weeks to days and improves patient survival. UCLH data contributed to Caplacizumab's approval for NHS use and it is now standard-of-care for iTTP worldwide.

Connecting Research - University of Reading research blog
Our most popular papers of 2021

Which Reading research got the most attention across the globe in 2021? We've dug into the Altmetric data to bring you the past year's three most talked about Reading-authored publications for each research theme. Agriculture, Food and Health theme:...Read More >

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK)
The promise of AI for health data research - HDR UK

Today's data scientists can do things using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) that they could barely have dreamed of in the past. Today's supercomputers can crunch through vast swathes of health data to gain insights into diseases faster than ever before. Crisis often spurs innovation, and COVID-19 has been no exception.

University of Reading
Eye-opening discovery changes clinical practice worldwide

Research which explains why people with eye coordination problems respond differently to treatments has re-written the textbooks, changing international clinical practice. During their lifetimes, one in ten people will seek treatment for a problem with poor eye coordination, such as squint, lazy eye, or double vision.

The generation gap: age and COVID-19 risk

A recent study of COVID-19 cases from six countries suggests that children and those under 20 are half as likely to become infected than older adults. The study was co-authored by Dr Rosalind Eggo from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), a UKRI-funded Health Data Research UK Fellow.

How dangerous is COVID-19? Lessons from the Diamond Princess cruise ship

Health Data Research UK fellow Dr Rosalind Eggo from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is helping to answer these questions by studying data from the Diamond Princess - a cruise ship that was struck by hundreds of cases of COVID-19 within a matter of weeks, back in February 2020.

Data through our lifetimes: Harnessing the power of longitudinal studies for health

Our health changes throughout our lifetimes from childhood through to old age. However, many research studies only provide a snapshot in time and don't capture the longer term changes that underpin health and disease. Longitudinal cohort studies solve this problem by following people over a long period of time - years or even decades - tracking their genetics, mental and physical health, lifestyles and more.

Promote your research

Top tips for telling the world about your research Here you can find some advice on promoting your research, drawing on expertise from the Research Communications and Engagement Team. We've put together top tips on everything from blogging to speaking to the media.

Connecting Research - the University of Reading research blog
Uncovering the full picture of the UK's food poverty issue

An estimated 8.4 million people in the UK struggle to get enough to eat and rely on food hand-outs, according to the UN. Volunteering at a community kitchen inspired PhD student Sabine Mayeux to investigate how they are addressing food poverty in the UK. She talked to Sarah Harrop about her research.

Connecting Research
Fighting medicines waste with smart packaging - Connecting Research

Parliamentarians will hear today about the problem of medicines waste - and how better pharmaceutical packaging could help save the NHS money - from pharmacy student Bilal Mohammed, who is one of two winners of our undergraduate research scheme. He told us more.

University of Reading - Connecting Research
Objects and death: three burials across time

Across millennia, people have buried objects alongside the dead. Ahead of his upcoming British Museum conference 'Objects and death', Dr Duncan Garrow spoke to Sarah Harrop about three mysterious things...Read More >

Connecting Research
Spreading the word about snakebite - Connecting Research

While most of us were tucking into our Christmas dinners, Dr Sakthi Vaiyapuri was travelling around southern India teaching people how to avoid being bitten by venomous snakes. He talked Sarah Harrop through pictures from his trip, what he achieved - and the snakebite diagnostic test he's developing here in his Reading lab which he hopes will save many more lives.

Connecting Research
Moving away from the 'autism' label - Connecting Research

Today we're hosting the Autistica Discover conference - bringing together scientists, clinicians, autistic people and their families to discuss the latest autism research discoveries. Sarah Harrop spoke to Professor Bhisma Chakrabarti about his work on understanding the features of autism - and why he doesn't believe in diagnostic labels.

Connecting Research
Before the flood - Connecting Research

We've all seen news footage of the devastation that flooding can cause - buildings smashed to driftwood, crops destroyed and people huddled on rooftops in a brown sea of floodwater. Flooding hits countries with limited resources the hardest.

Medical Research Council - Network magazine
Secrets of our first seven days

What exactly is gene editing? Why is it important in medical research? Last year, developmental biologist Dr Kathy Niakan got the first ever licence to carry out gene editing in very early human embryos using a new technique called CRISPR-Cas9. She explains all.

Medical Research Council Insight blog
Working life: Surgeon and researcher Damian Mole

Damian Mole combines surgery with research. He has just been awarded a prestigious MRC Senior Clinical Fellowship to find out why people who’ve had acute pancreatitis have a shortened lifespan, even after they seem to have fully recovered. Here he tells us about the buzz of surgery, the importance of mentors and relaxing with his jazz band.

Behind the picture: Sir John Sulston’s worm cell drawings

Sir John Sulston is best known for the leading role he played in the Human Genome Project. But earlier in his career, he studied the development of the nematode worm. Sarah Harrop tells the story behind a lab notebook entry which contributed to a Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough.

Medical Research Council Insight blog
Behind the picture: a bit of a mouthful

In the second of a series of posts looking back on the photo archives of our 100-year history, Sarah Harrop muses on the health and safety of mouth pipetting, flu research and floral trousers.

Medical Research Council
Llamas, jungle fowl...and HIV

University College London virology professor Robin Weiss retires from research at the end of March after 30 years of continuous MRC funding. He tells Sarah Harrop about his eventful career, which has involved critical discoveries about HIV’s modus operandi, catching jungle fowl in Malaysia and developing microbicides based on llama antibodies.

the Guardian
It's a jungle out there...

'Hello. My name is Crazy Like Monkey." The semi-toothless man in the mirrored shades proudly pointed to his plastic name badge, which, sure enough, was inscribed with the words "Crazy Like Monkey". We'd just staggered off a wooden sampan after a three-hour boat journey upriver to the village of Kuala Tahan, in the heart of Malaysia's national park, Taman Negara.