|Dr Ellison is a Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He served as Chief of the Evans Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology at that university from 1989 to 2008. With training in internal medicine, cardiology, and epidemiology, he is a senior researcher at The Framingham Study, a longitudinal study of risk factors for heart disease and other chronic diseases that began in 1948. He is also principal investigator of a major study evaluating the relation of lifetime non-use, moderate use, or abuse of alcohol to the diseases of ageing and mortality.
In July 1994 Dr Ellison established the Institute on Lifestyle and Health at Boston University School of Medicine, of which he is the director. The Institute focuses research on various aspects of lifestyle, especially the moderate consumption of wine and other alcohol, that relate to the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Dr Ellison is best known to the general public for his research on what is known as ‘The French Paradox’. This refers to the fact that the French have a high-fat diet and other risk factors, yet have very low rates of coronary heart disease. A large part of this protection is believed to relate to the regular consumption of wine.
Dr Ellison and Dr Serge Renaud of Lyon, France, were the key scientists who took part in a segment on the ‘French Paradox” that appeared on the US television programme ‘60 Minutes’ in November 1991. Red wine sales in America increased by 40% immediately after that programme, and the high level of sales has continued. In early 2008, wine surpassed beer as the “most preferred” alcoholic beverage of Americans.