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UTMB Receives CDC Grant to Combat Firearm Violence

The University of Texas medical branch has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to undertake a groundbreaking study aimed at addressing firearm injury and violence among adolescents and young adults. This rare opportunity, granted by federal funds, will shed light on firearm-related issues as a critical public health epidemic.

"This grant represents a significant opportunity to address firearm injury and violence in a holistic manner,” said Dr. Jeff Temple, Founding Director of the Center for Violence Prevention at UTMB. “We are hoping to provide insights that can inform evidence-based interventions and policy decisions.”

Over the past two decades, unintentional injuries, suicides, and homicides have remained the top three leading causes of death among adolescents and emerging adults. Firearms are intrinsically linked to these forms of mortality. Notably, the study will investigate the link between firearm involvement in adolescence, whether as victims or perpetrators, and the predictive connection to firearm injury and violence in adulthood. The repercussions of firearm injury and violence extend to individuals, families, and society at large, with an economic burden exceeding $88 billion over five years.

Recognizing that the roots of violence often begin early in life, it is imperative that prevention efforts target various risks and protective factors, considering elements such as gender, race and ethnicity, life stage, and developmental transitions. The study aims to illuminate this public health crisis across multiple layers of social ecology, encompassing individual, relational, community, and societal domains.

In this 3-year grant totaling about $2 million, the study team will conduct in-depth interviews with known gun carriers, strengthen measures related to firearm injury and violence, gather arrest records, and collect data on school, neighborhood, and community levels to develop a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing firearm violence.

“Our ultimate goal is to contribute to reducing firearm violence among adolescents and young adults, leading to safer communities,” said Temple.

The Center for Violence Prevention at UTMB is dedicated to preventing violence through collaboration with academic, public, and governmental partners, developing evidence-informed prevention and intervention programs, and making a positive impact on reducing violence in Texas and across the United States.