U-M to establish new Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention

Author | Kara Gavin

The University of Michigan will launch a new Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention to generate knowledge and advance innovative solutions that reduce firearm injury, a public health crisis that leads to more than 100 deaths per day across the United States.

“Firearm violence led to nearly 40,000 deaths nationwide last year, and the stark reality that we all must come to grips with is that this public health crisis is unfortunately growing more intense every year,” said Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Michigan Medicine.

“We have an incredible opportunity here with this new institute to really address the problem head on through collaborative research and scholarship. By partnering with rural and urban community leaders and other key stakeholders, we can leverage our expertise and resources so that together we achieve our common goals of decreasing firearm injury and death, all while respecting Americans’ Second Amendment rights.”

A $10 million university commitment over the next five years will support the institute, which launched as a presidential initiative in 2019 to formulate and answer critical questions around safety and violence.

The university is uniquely positioned to address this crisis because its researchers have secured more federal funding to study firearm injury prevention than any other academic institution nationwide.

More Michigan residents have died as a result of firearms than from opioids over the past decade, but political polarization around this issue has resulted in limited science, minimal research funding and a dearth of faculty scholars focused on this field of study.

To address this challenge, the institute will explore firearm injuries across the lifespan, including suicide, community and school-based violence, domestic violence, peer violence and police violence, as well as disparities in susceptibility to firearm injuries by race, gender, geographic location and socioeconomic status.

A research and scholarship core will aim to foster scholarly collaboration across disciplines, seed innovative projects focused on research, scholarship and creative practice, and prepare teams for external funding opportunities to support future firearm injury-prevention research.

The institute will educate and train a diverse next generation of faculty and students with opportunities that include new firearm-related courses revolving around epidemiology, health disparities and health equity, interventions and policy analysis.

Funding also will initially support a national search for at least three new faculty hires, five postdoctoral fellows and multiple graduate student research assistants — all of whom will explore firearm research and scholarship through distinct disciplines, from social sciences and the arts to engineering and public health.

“The Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention will help us add to the science and data we are marshaling as a public university to save lives and prevent harm,” President Mark Schlissel said. “I applaud the many students and faculty researchers who are devoting their intellectual talents to solving this horrific public health crisis.”

U-M professors Marc Zimmerman, Ph.D., and Patrick Carter, M.D., who have studied firearm violence for more than a decade, will lead the institute as its inaugural co-directors. Together, Zimmerman and Carter have authored nearly 350 scholarly publications on violence and firearm injury prevention. They also are on the leadership team directing the Firearm Safety among Children and Teens consortium, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Zimmerman, the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor of Public Health and professor of psychology, directs the Prevention Research Center and the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center — both housed in the School of Public Health and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New research led by Zimmerman shows the engagement of local residents in community greening efforts can lead to a substantial reduction in firearm violence.

Carter, associate professor of emergency medicine, and of health behavior and health education, directs the university’s CDC-funded Injury Prevention Center. Older adult firearm suicides account for more than 30 percent of all firearm fatalities each year, and so new research led by Carter explores whether older adult firearm owners discuss safe storage with their physician. His findings reveal that less than 5 percent of older adult firearm owners had been asked by their physician during the prior year about firearm storage.

The institute, which reports to the Office of the Vice President for Research, will appoint deans and faculty to its executive and advisory committees so they can provide guidance on strategic priorities and foster collaboration across disciplines. A committee of external stakeholders also will ensure a diversity of nonpartisan perspectives beyond academia, and its members may include firearm owners, religious and school leaders, law enforcement, and rural and urban community groups.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]


Featured News & Stories backs of three people
Health Lab
When genetic testing can help the whole family
Genetic testing for hereditary conditions such as breast cancer can have implications for the whole family. Learn how genetic testing helped Cathleen Argyle and her family to uncover a rare mutation and how the Rogel Cancer Center provided advice and guidance throughout the process.
pregnant women 3 blue and yellow background
Health Lab
Income affects maternal and infant health in somewhat unexpected ways
While higher income improves maternal and infant health over time, it’s not enough to offset the impact of race, according to new research. In addition, although higher-income mothers and their babies ultimately end up with better health outcomes, they actually start out with more difficulties. And regardless of wealth, maternal and infant health in the United States lags behind Sweden.
gif of people with spinal injuries walking and sun setting purple pink yellow grey
Health Lab
For spinal cord injuries, acceptance and commitment therapy aids in recovery
For spinal cord injuries, acceptance and commitment therapy aids in recovery.
eye drawing
Health Lab
Cataract surgery reimbursements may not be enough for some patients
For complex cataract surgery, Medicare reimbursements are far lower than a simpler form of the surgery.
vaping hand
Health Lab
Would you know if your kid was vaping?
Nearly half of parents in a national poll felt confident they’d know if their child used e-cigarettes. An expert offers four steps to identify and address vaping at home
News Release
It’s a match: Graduating U-M medical students discover what’s next at Match Day
It’s a match: Graduating U-M medical students discover what’s next at Match Day