NIH grant to establish U-M Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention as national research coordinating center

September 23, 2022
Written By:
Kate Barnes, Office of the Vice President for Research

The University of Michigan has received a $5.5 million federal grant to launch a National Institutes of Health firearm research coordinating center that will oversee community-based research projects designed to reduce firearm-related injuries, the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States.

In collaboration with the NIH, the U-M Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention will provide cross-network coordination, communication, analytics, engagement and dissemination efforts to help advance three new research projects led by teams at George Washington University, the University of Chicago and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. This funding will support operations for the first three years of a five-year plan.

As a national coordinating center, the institute will collaborate with teams across all three research sites to centralize their collective efforts, addressing disparities in firearm violence and evaluating the effectiveness of community-level prevention strategies. The institute launched in 2021 as part of a separate $10 million university commitment to generate new knowledge and advance innovative solutions to reduce firearm injuries and deaths, while respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to legally own firearms.

“This grant provides an opportunity for the field of firearm injury prevention research to continue expanding and addressing new research questions across the national landscape that can help address and prevent this public health issue,” said Patrick Carter, co-director of U-M’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, PI of the new coordinating center and an associate professor of emergency medicine and of health behavior and health education.

“We are honored to host the center within the U-M Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and lead the network in the facilitation of such critical efforts.”

NIH was provided $12.5 million through the Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act to develop, evaluate and implement interventions to better understand and prevent violence, including firearm violence, and the resulting trauma, injuries and mortality. The three research projects, funded by the NIH separately from the coordinating center, will focus on community- or organizational-level interventions that are designed to modify characteristics of organizations, environments and settings, while also targeting higher order structural causes of firearm and related violence.

U-M will work alongside researchers at the project sites, NIH leadership, a steering committee and a community partner committee to evaluate the efficacy of these interventions across diverse settings and populations. Below is a summary of the three research projects that the institute will oversee and coordinate:

  • At George Washington University, researchers will work to develop, implement and evaluate a media-based, youth-focused narrative intervention seeking to support the dissemination and community facilitated adoption of developmental trajectories that present viable alternatives to violence.
  • The University of Chicago’s Level 1 Trauma Center will develop and evaluate a novel and holistic intervention that combines hospital violence intervention programs with a medical-legal partnership as part of an effort to achieve equity in social and structural determinants of health—the first program to measure their combined impact.
  • At the University of Mississippi Medical Center, researchers will develop and implement optimized community-focused interventions through a comprehensive approach of screening, brief intervention and referral for treatment that are designed to reduce the incidence of firearm injury, functional victim recovery, incidence of retaliation and reinjury, and economic impact at the community and individual levels.

“Firearm injuries have increased significantly over the past decade, and addressing the issue requires a multifaceted and collaborative approach,” said Marc Zimmerman, co-director of the U-M Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor of Public Health.

“These funds will be utilized to provide each research team with a centralized infrastructure and resources to encourage cross-project collaboration, effective communication, and expert consultation and evaluation. We are excited to help lead this effort and to continue moving firearm injury prevention research forward to save lives across the U.S.”