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University of Michigan kicks off new research into firearm injury prevention, impact of the arts

The University of Michigan Union
Wikimedia Commons
University of Michigan student union

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel announced plans Thursday to launch two new interdisciplinary initiatives.

Schlissel said the goal of the firearm injury prevention research initiative is to develop new knowledge and data on firearm violence.

Schlissel said researchers will collaborate across fields like medicine, public health, social sciences, and engineering. 

"Our vision with this initiative is not to delve into Second Amendment politics," said Schlissel. "But rather we will address injuries and death as the public health crisis that this is."

Shlissel said that despite a public health crisis related to firearm violence, "federal research support is miniscule compared to other leading causes of mortality such as cancer and car crashes."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were about 100 firearm deaths per day in 2017 across the United States.

"In 2017, firearms were the leading cause of death amongst high school students. More than 100 thousand Americans are injured by guns every year, and the rate is increasing," said Schlissel. "Among children and adolescents, 35% of firearm deaths are classified as suicide, and nearly 60% of firearm deaths are classified as homicides. Unintentional or accidental injuries account for only 1%."

According to Schlissel, the U of M houses the nation's largest collection of firearm datasets, and it has secured more federal research funding to study firearm injury prevention than any other U.S. university.

The second initiative announced Thursday was a comprehensive arts initiative. 

Schlissel said the goal is to build on the University's existing strength in the arts and to explore how the arts can foster creativity, experimentation and new ways of thinking across disciplines.

"How can the arts bring us together around solving problems or considering profound questions like 'what is love?'" said Schlissel.

Schlissel said the first step of the initiative will be to gather ideas from the University community and kick off a series of pilot projects.

As an example, he cited art programs that a U of M art professor created for people living with dementia.

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