Now Sponsoring an Obesity-Related Research Fellowship: Pepsi?

Critics say Yale should not accept a Pepsi fellowship for nutrition research.

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Pepsi tastes better cold, but the soda giant is catching some hot, hot heat at Yale University.

Critics at Yale are wondering why their school has accepted a $250,000 gift from Pepsi, spread over five years, that will sponsor a research fellowship at the Yale School of Medicine. The fellowship, which will be run through the school's M.D.-Ph.D. program, will be for students interested in nutrition and obesity-related diseases. Critics want to know what the school is thinking, saying that the company's influence on the research could taint findings about Pepsi products' nutritional values, the Yale Daily News reports.

Yale School of Public Health graduate Michele Simon, a public-health lawyer, tells the Daily News that Pepsi is being disingenuous about its "desire to research nutrition to improve its products," the report says.

"They make some healthier things, but the profit drivers of their portfolio include Pepsi, Gatorade, and a whole litany of unhealthy beverages," she said. "They own Cheetos, for God's sake."

Despite the torrid criticism from both inside and outside the Yale community, Yale School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern says Yale did nothing wrong in accepting the fellowship money.

"We don't see PepsiCo as an evil company," Alpern tells the Daily News. "We feel [the gift] is perfectly ethical .... A good analogy is the opinion that tobacco companies giving schools grants may promote cigarette smoking. A lot of schools won't take tobacco money, [but] we don't have a ban against taking money from anyone in the food industry."

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