The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research (the Forum) consists of a group of scientists, physicians, and specialists who carry out research in fields related to alcohol and its effects on the human body and disease. Some of their research is related to the biochemistry of polyphenols and other substances in wine and other antioxidant-rich foods and beverages. The scientists do not receive any remuneration for their contributions to the Forum. The discussions of emerging research and critiques are closed to all but the scientific members of the Forum until they are released to the public through posting on the website: www.alcoholresearchforum.org.
The Forum does not give specific recommendations regarding alcohol use (such as encouraging people to begin to drink for the purported health effects of alcoholic beverages), and it strongly supports efforts to decrease alcohol abuse. The Forum should not be considered as “pro-alcohol” or “anti-alcohol;” it strives to help assure that scientifically sound, balanced information on the topic is available to the public, the media, and governmental agencies.
As stated, the 40+ members of the Forum receive no remuneration for contributing to Forum critiques of emerging scientific papers and policy statements. Three of the Forum members are based at institutions that receive major support from the wine industry; over the past decade, six other members have received a small percentage of their support (1-5%) from the beverage industry for specific projects. However, whether the support for individual members is from governmental agencies, universities, private foundations, or other groups, none of these organizations has any input into the papers reviewed by the Forum, the discussions among Forum members, or the conclusions presented in the critiques published on the forum web-site.
The Forum is co-directed by R. Curtis Ellison, MD, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA, and Helena Conibear, Executive Director of Alcohol in Moderation (AIM) in the United Kingdom. Dr. Ellison is Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. His past research has been supported mainly by grants from the National Institutes of Health. In the past, he has also received some unrestricted, educational donations from a variety of other sources, including companies in the alcoholic beverage industry and associations of grape growers and wine growers and wineries. None of these donors have had any control over the review of emerging reports on alcohol carried out by the Forum, first seeing the critiques after they are released to the public. However, since 2013, Dr. Ellison has not received support from any organization with any relation to the beverage industry.
The distribution of press releases to health editors, the medical community, public health agencies, and relevant policy makers describing new critiques on the Forum web-site is carried out by Alcohol in Moderation (AIM) in the UK. AIM is a non-profit organization that publishes a journal (www.aim-digest.com) ten times per year that summarizes new information related to the use and abuse of alcohol originating from scientists, governmental organizations, WHO, and NGO groups. The AIM journal is funded by subscriptions to the journal; subscribers include companies and associations in the beverage industry as well as NGO and governmental organizations. None of the professors, physicians, and specialists who are on the AIM Council receive any remuneration for their reviews and analysis published in AIM.
Occasionally, Council members will be asked to take on specific reviews on a consultancy basis on research relevant to alcohol and health for AIM. AIM will take on paid project work for social aspect organizations or associations for harm reductions and responsible drinking.