The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) has received the first year of funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to maintain the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center (UNC IPRC) as an Injury Control Research Center. The award is expected to be up to $4.2 million over a 5-year period.

Nationally, there are 9 Injury Control Research Centers that blend outreach, training, education, and research activities into a single seamless program aimed at reducing the number, risk and public health impact of injury and violence in the U.S. The UNC IPRC is one of two centers that has been continuously funded by the program since its inception in 1987. The center is led by Director Dr. Stephen Marshall, professor of epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Associate Director Dr. Beth Moracco, associate professor of health behavior in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Kim Dixon, director of outreach, training, and education.

UNC-Chapel Hill Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz shared his excitement for the news saying, “The longevity of IPRC’s CDC support speaks to the many important contributions that this center makes to our campus research community, and to injury prevention knowledge nationally.  We are grateful to Dr. Marshall for his strong leadership of IPRC and to the world-class team of injury prevention scholars who make Carolina a leader in this critical area of research.”

Through this award, UNC IPRC will conduct four new research projects during the five-year grant cycle:

  • Patterns of Intimate Partner Violence from Adolescence into Adulthood among Sexual Minorities and Heterosexuals leverages data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) and explores patterns of intimate partner violence experienced by LGBQ+ and heterosexual people from adolescence into adulthood. This project will be led by Carolyn Halpern, Ph.D., professor and chair of maternal and child health.
  • Medicaid Expansion and Deaths due to Opioid Overdose, Suicides, and Homicides among Formerly Incarcerated Persons examines the effects of Medicaid expansion on the incidence of opioid overdose, homicide and suicide among recently released incarcerated individuals. It will also detail state-specific models from Kentucky and Rhode Island for implementing Medicaid expansion. This project will be led by David Rosen, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine.
  • Adaptation of the “Moms and Teens for Safe Dates” Program for Web-Based Delivery increases the reach, accessibility and implementation of a proven intervention program and adapts “Moms and Teens for Safe Dates” from hard copy booklets to a web-based platform. This project will be led by Luz M. Reyes, Ph.D., assistant professor of health behavior.
  • Development of an Emergency Department Patient-Centered Intervention for the Primary Prevention of Long-Term Opioid Use involves the development and testing of a clinical intervention for the prevention of long-term opioid use in an Emergency Department population encountering opioids for the first time. This project will be led by Tim Platts-Mills, MD MSc, assistant professor and research vice-chair of emergency medicine.

The award will also support IPRC’s extensive outreach, training, and education activities that focus on disseminating and promoting current evidence-based injury and violence prevention strategies to practitioners and policymakers across North Carolina and beyond. This includes the Injury and Violence Prevention Fellowship program which provides opportunities for graduate students from diverse academic, professional and demographic backgrounds to gain hands-on experience in injury and violence prevention. Many of IPRC’s outreach and training programs are conducted in close collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Health of Human Services’ (NC DHHS) Injury and Violence Prevention Branch and community-based partners. One such program is the Injury-Free NC Academy, a series of 2-day workshops that trains teams of diverse community stakeholders from across North Carolina in injury and violence prevention to implement evidence-based interventions in their communities.

“This is very good news for North Carolina and our region,” said Alan Dellapenna, lead of the NC DHHS Injury and Violence Prevention Branch. “Our partnership with UNC IPRC has allowed both organizations to advance their shared goals in injury prevention. IPRC provides us with ready access to outstanding researchers who are committed to integrating injury prevention practice considerations into their research projects.”