NIH to fund gun violence research

Call for projects is in response to president’s plan for reducing gun violence.

On Sept. 27, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a call for research projects examining violence, with particular consideration to be given to firearm violence. According to the announcement, “NIH plans to fund research projects over the next three years beginning in fiscal year 2014 into the causes and consequences of violence as it relates to the health of individuals and communities. The goal is to identify evidence-based strategies for preventing violence and incorporating them into clinical and community settings.” The call for projects includes three funding opportunities (for R01, R03 and R21 grant mechanisms) and is sponsored by multiple institutes and centers. 

The NIH funding announcements acknowledge recent reports that call for additional research on violence, including an Institute of Medicine report released in June. The solicited research aims to study underlying behavioral, neurobiological and genetic mechanisms of violence; impact on public health, including individual-level and societal costs of violence; mental health and substance-related causes of violence; risk and protective factors at the individual, family and community level; safe, effective and cost-effective interventions to reduce and/or prevent violence and its triggers; and best strategies to increase adoption and implementation of evidence-based interventions. 

The NIH is acting in response to President Obama's national plan (PDF, 332KB) for addressing gun violence released in January, which includes an initiative to end the freeze on gun violence research. In 2011, Congress added language to fiscal year 2012 appropriations legislation that funded the NIH, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, stating that “none of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.” This language repeated the language that was added in 1996 to appropriations legislation that funded the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has been widely interpreted as prohibiting the use of federal funds for gun violence research. In a fact sheet (PDF, 350KB) supplementing the president’s plan in January, the White House stated that “research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need.”  

The American Psychological Association (APA) has advocated consistently for federal funding for gun violence research and for violent death reporting, including providing administration officials with a set of recommendations in advance of the release of the president’s national plan in January. APA submitted outside witness testimony in May to the Senate Committee on Appropriations supporting the president’s request for federal funding for gun violence research at the CDC, and sent a letter in July along with other organizations to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations, supporting new funding for gun violence research at CDC and NIH for fiscal year 2014.

For more information contact Christine Jamieson.

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