It’s rare for officials at the National Institutes of Health to summon university scientists from hundreds of miles away. So when Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University and a colleague got the call to meet with the director of NIH’s Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, he said, “I knew we were in trouble.”

He never imagined, however, that at the 2015 meeting the director, George Koob, would leap out of his seat and scream at the scientists after their PowerPoint presentation on research the agency had eagerly funded on the association between alcohol marketing and underage drinking. “I don’t f***ing care!” Koob yelled, referring to alcohol advertising, according to the scientists.

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  • One must wonder why alcoholic beverage companies (or any company) spend huge sums on advertising if it is ineffective.

  • Dear Ms, Begley.
    I am writing in response to your recent article indicating that George Koob, NIAAA director, is biased against funding research investigating alcohol industry advertising and its possible impact on underage drinking. Dr. Koob’s goal has always been in support of the highest quality scientific research aimed at understanding the effects of alcohol on the human body with particular emphasis on adolescents and adolescent brain development. I am the Principle Investigator of a NIAAA funded research consortium entitled Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood (NADIA) that is focused on understanding the impact of adolescent alcohol abuse on adult brain. Dr. Koob attended a recent joint retreat of the NADIA consortium and another NIAAA funded consortium (The National Consortium on Alcohol and Neurodevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA)), focused on alcohol use and/or other factors that contribute to adolescent maturation. Dr. Koob provided his guidance and input because he is dedicated to reducing problems with alcohol. He has increased adolescent alcohol research at NIAAA and supported NIAAA inclusion in NIH Brain Initiatives on adolescent brain development.

    To be fair, please include in your future articles that Dr. Koob advocates and supports adolescent alcohol research, including human and preclinical consortia focused on the topic, to balance your noting his lack of enthusiasm for advertising research.

    Sincerely,

    Fulton T. Crews, Ph.D.
    Director, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
    John Andrews Distinguished Professor
    Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry

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