R. Curtis Ellison, M.D., has been Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine since 1989, and is the former Chief of the Evans Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology. He holds degrees from Davidson College, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Harvard School of Public Health. With training in internal medicine, cardiology, and epidemiology, Dr. Ellison serves as a senior investigator in The Framingham Study, and is the principal investigator of a number of research studies on the interaction of genetic and environmental factors in determining familial risk of hypertension and heart disease.
In July, 1994, Dr. Ellison established and became the Director of the Institute on Lifestyle and Health at Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine. The Institute focuses research on various aspects of lifestyle, especially diet, exercise, and the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages, habits that relate to the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Dr. Ellison is best known to the lay 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. Dr. Ellison and Dr. Serge Renaud of Lyon, France, were the key scientists who were a part of the program on the "French Paradox" that appeared on the American television program, 60 Minutes, in November, 1991. In the early 1990's Dr. Ellison worked with the Oldways Foundation, Harvard School of Public Health, and the European office of the World Health Organization in the development of the "Mediterranean Diet Pyramid", a set of dietary guidelines for Americans.