Some called it ironic, but not Edgar M. Bronfman, chairman of Joseph E. Seagrams and Sons, the world's largest producer of alcoholic beverages. He came to Cambridge in June to give Harvard almost $6 million to study the biochemical basis of alcoholism.
Stressing that there are "no strings attached" to the gift, President Bok accepted the donation, the largest single corporate grant the University has ever received for pure research--and the latest in a series of financial agreements between major universities and corporations.
The donation will fund research by a team headed by Dr. Bert Vallee, Cabot Professor of Biological Chemistry, who said research in the field has reached a critical point and seems to indicate that alcoholism may be heavily genetically influenced.
Officials announced the gift at a morning press conference at 17 Quincy St., where the atmosphere was chummy until one reporter raised the ethical question of Seagram's donating money to study alcoholism.
Bronfman denied any possible conflicts of interest--the money has been deposited in a separate account--explaining, "Automobile people spend a lot of money to make their cars safer."
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