WASHINGTON, DC – The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) announced that one of the U.S. government’s former top alcohol research scientists will head up the industry trade association’s Office of Scientific Affairs and lead a multi-pronged, multi-year enhanced moderation initiative.
Dr. Sam Zakhari, former director of the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the country’s lead agency on alcohol and health, will advise the Council and the industry on matters related to scientific policy and research.
Dr. Zakhari is a biomedical scientist with over 40 years of research experience -- including 26 years with NIAAA -- in the fields of pharmacology, toxicology, biochemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, physiology and molecular biology. He is the author of over 70 scientific articles and editor of 11 monographs on the subject of alcohol and health.
“This is an industry that has long been dedicated to social responsibility and moderation. This new moderation initiative and the addition of one of the U.S. government’s top alcohol scientists, Dr. Sam Zakhari, underscores the seriousness of our commitment to the fundamentals of good science and evidence-based policies,” said Distilled Spirits Council President Dr. Peter H. Cressy. “Dr. Zakhari will be joined in his efforts by our chief medical advisor, the former Chairman of the American Medical Association, Dr. Ray Scalettar. There are over 4,000 scientific and quasi-scientific studies on alcohol produced annually. We look to Dr. Zakhari and Dr. Scalettar to help guide and inform our policy on alcohol and health.”
In addition, Dr. Zakhari will head an enhanced moderation initiative, based on the science in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, designed to educate policymakers, health professionals and the public.
According to Eric B. Rimm, Sc.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, who served as a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Member: “A large body of convincing scientific evidence suggests that alcohol can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but this must be balanced with the known detrimental effects of excessive consumption. The science makes it clear that the potential risks and benefits are the same for spirits, beer and wine. All told, the Dietary Guidelines note the importance of sensible lifestyle choices, which together can lower risk of chronic disease.”
The enhanced multi-year social responsibility initiative includes:
· Dr. Sam Zakhari’s leadership of the Office of Scientific Affairs
· A multifaceted education effort, including:
o Launch of new moderation website: www.DrinkInModeration.org
o New moderation public service announcement
o New Moderation Brochure for public and health officials
o Release of alcohol information podcast: “Test Your Alcohol I.Q.”
o Drink In Moderation Facebook page
· Outreach to health professionals on the science of moderation
o Presentations at scientific and medical conferences
o Circulation of Moderation DVD to health professionals
· A legislative education effort that will include briefings with federal and state leaders, state attorneys general and public policy leaders
Dr. Scott Friedman, Mount Sinai School of Medicine Dean for Therapeutic Discovery, and Chief, Division of Liver Diseases, commented on the addition of Dr. Zakhari: "Dr. Samir Zakhari has been among the most important voices in our nation for advancing the science underlying the effects of alcohol, through his leadership of NIAAA’s Division of Metabolism and Health Effects. An articulate and passionate scientist and public health official, his stewardship of this critical funding portfolio of NIAAA has improved the health of Americans and fueled the interest of scientists and the public. The American public has been well served by his advocacy and talent."
Dr. Zakhari stated, “I have dedicated my career to a better understanding of the science of alcohol and health. Joining the Distilled Spirits Council, which has been a leader in advocating responsible alcohol consumption and good science, is an opportunity to advance policies that promote moderation for Americans and discourage alcohol abuse.”