Forbes magazine is reporting that Victor Dzau, the chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and a PepsiCo board member has recently been elected president of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). [Tweet this fact!]
Since IOM is an independent, nonprofit organization, this news is raising eyebrows within the healthy living community, though it's worth nothing that it's certainly not the first time such an appointment has been made (for example, in 2009, President Obama appointed Michael Taylor, a former vice president for Monsanto, as the senior advisor to the Food and Drug Administration).
Based in D.C., IOM was constructed as an institute to provide advice to policy makers, health professionals, and the public on pressing public health issues. Dzau will be replacing current president Harvey V. Fineberg, who is stepping down from his position after 12 years. Dzau obviously has extensive experience in the public health field—he's on the board of directors of Singapore Health Services and is a former member of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health—but it's his current position on PepsiCo's board that's causing the most buzz, due to the numerous PepsiCo products that many experts believe are contributing to the obesity crisis in the U.S.
However, a PepsiCo spokesperson told Businessweek that Dzau plans to resign from his position on the board before taking up his new role at IOM in July, so technically there won't be any conflict of interests within his new role. Still, the new appointment leaves some wondering how he'll handle potential sugar- and soda-related research that comes his way, as well as any obesity-related concerns that might arise.
What do you think? Is Dzau's election to IOM a big red flag or not a big deal? Let us know what you think in the comments below or Tweet us @Shape_Magazine!