A $5 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health is bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from across the U.S. to develop ways to prevent and reduce firearm injuries and deaths in children, The Trace reports. The award is the largest NIH funding commitment in two decades aimed at reducing gun deaths, the second leading cause of fatalities in children. The Firearm-safety Among Children & Teens Consortium (FACTS) will be comprised of more than 20 researchers at 12 universities and health systems. It will be run at the University of Michigan. “Reducing firearm-related deaths requires an injury-prevention science,” said Rebecca Cunningham, a professor at the University of Michigan who is one of three principal investigators. “If we apply that science the same way we have for car crash preventions and deaths over the years, we can likely reduce the deaths caused by gun violence.”
Joining Cunningham at the University of Michigan are Marc Zimmerman, a professor of public health, and Patrick Carter, an assistant professor of emergency medicine. Co-investigators are Frederick Rivara, a professor at the University of Washington, and David Hemenway Harvard University. The consortium will begin its work by publishing a research agenda this fall. Researchers will create an archive of child firearms-injury data and will train new researchers. Cunningham said the grant will “jump-start the field of pediatric firearm injury prevention,” noting the need for more researchers, trainees, and junior faculty in the research area. In March, amid public outcry after the school shooting in Parkland, Fl, Congress inserted a brief passage into the federal spending bill clarifying that the Centers for Disease Control is permitted to research gun violence. However, the budget bill included no specific funding for research involving firearms, leaving experts skeptical that the status quo would change. “There’s no funding. There’s no agreement to provide funding. There isn’t even encouragement,” Dr. Garen Wintemute, an expert on gun violence and professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, Davis, told NPR.