The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research (ISFAR) 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 ISFAR. The discussions of emerging research and critiques are closed to all but the scientific members of ISFAR until they are released to the public through posting on the website: www.bu.edu/alcohol-forum.
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 or to drink in excess of established guidelines), 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 35 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; six others receive 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, the discussions among Forum members, or the conclusions presented in the critiques published on the forum web-site.
ISFAR is co-directed by R. Curtis Ellison, MD, of the Institute on Lifestyle & Health at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA, and Helena Conibear, Executive Director of Alcohol in Moderation (AIM) in the United Kingdom.
The Institute on Lifestyle & Health, Boston University School of Medicine: Serving as the Co-Director of ISFAR is R. Curtis Ellison, MD, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine, who directs the Institute on Lifestyle & Health at that institution. Since its establishment in 1994, the Institute has been funded by unrestricted, educational donations from a variety of sources, including companies in the alcoholic beverage industry and associations of grape growers and wine growers and wineries. None of the donors had any control over the review of emerging reports on alcohol carried out by the Institute, first seeing them after they are released to the public.
Alcohol in Moderation (AIM): The distribution of press releases to health editors, the medical community, public health agencies, and relevant policy makers describing new critiues on the ISFAR 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 initiatives – recently including projects for Drink AWARE Ireland and The European Forum for Responsible Drinking. AIM also has a charitable arm in the UK, The Alcohol Education Trust, which has teachers as Trustees, that delivers alcohol education to 11 – 16 year olds, their parents and teachers.