Preventing injury through research and education: U-M chosen as one of handful of CDC injury centers

Projects to reduce deaths and harm from car crashes, violence, prescription drug overdoses and more will be funded by new $4.2M grant

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Every three minutes, an American dies from an injury that could have been prevented. Now, the University of Michigan will ramp up its efforts to prevent more of these unnecessary deaths, as well as non-fatal injuries, with a new research initiative that puts it among the nation’s top centers for such work.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has selected U-M to become one of its Injury Control Research Centers, a rare designation held by only 10 other institutions.

With a five-year, $4.2 million grant from CDC, U-M researchers will expand their already strong effort to prevent death and disability, as well as to treat injuries from automobile crashes, prescription drug overdoses, violence – such as bullying, suicide, and child maltreatment – and other leading causes of injury in the region.

Much of that work is done by the U-M Injury Center, which brings together researchers and funding from the U-M Medical SchoolSchool of Public Health,Transportation Research InstituteOffice of the Vice President for Research, and other areas. Together, the dozens of researchers involved in the center generate new findings that can impact both policy and individual behavior.

Recently, the center has provided seed money to test new ways to counsel prescription painkiller users on preventing overdoses, to prevent child abuse, to prevent teen drivers from crashing, and more.

“Becoming a CDC injury center will help us take our work to the next level, to help us understand why injuries occur, and what works best to mitigate physical and emotional harm,” says Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., the U-M emergency physician who directs the center. “Injuries are common and too often we accept them as just part of life. But injuries are not accidents. Injuries can be prevented, and their consequences can be reduced. Prevention works. Given the toll of injury on young people and our entire society, we can’t work hard or fast enough to develop and test new ideas for injury prevention.”

With the new grant, U-M will partner with researchers from Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and others to serve as a regional resource and to increase the opportunities for researchers from different areas to work together. In addition, the funding will allow for greatly expanded educational opportunities for students, physicians, and practitioners who are interested in injury prevention, including a certificate program, as well as regional conferences and seminars.

Because research findings do no good unless they are shared with those who can act on them, the new grant will also help U-M inform health care providers, social service agencies, and others across the state and nation about how to prevent injury among their patients, clients, and community members.

Cunningham, an associate professor in the U-M Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine and the U-M School of Public Health’s Health Behavior & Health Education Department, notes that the Injury Center’s interdisciplinary core faculty have a strong track record of innovative research on intentional and unintentional injury.

“Our core faculty have secured more than $30 million in grants in just the last five years, funding a broad range of projects. The new CDC funding will create new opportunities to work together, to fund pilot projects, to train a new generation of injury researchers, and to provide injury prevention resources for the region,” she says.

For more on the U-M Injury Center, visit

For more on the CDC’s Injury Control Research Centers, visit

Facts about injury in the United States:

  • Injury is the leading cause of death for people ages one through 44 years in the U.S.
  •  Among persons aged 1–34 years, unintentional injuries such as car crashes and falls alone claim more lives than any other cause.
  •  For those aged 5–34 in the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death, claiming the lives of 18,266 Americans in that age group each year. (33,000 across all age groups are killed each year from motor vehicle crashes.)
  •  For 15–24 year olds, homicide is the second leading cause of death and claims more than 8,500 lives each year; suicide is the third leading cause of death among this group and claims 4,140 lives each year.
  •  One person dies from injury every three minutes.
  • More than 2.8 million people are hospitalized with injury each year.
  •  More than 29 million people are treated in emergency departments for injury each year.
  • Injuries lead to more than $406 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity.

Facts about injury in Michigan:

  • Injury is the leading cause of death for people ages one through 44 years in Michigan.
  •  Motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of unintentional injury.
  •  Total crash-related death costs in Michigan were $1.04 billion in 2005.
  •  In 2009, violence, homicide and suicide caused more than 1,800 deaths in Michigan.
  •  Injury (including poisoning) is the 5th highest reason for hospitalization in Michigan.
  •  The number of unintentional poisoning deaths in Michigan doubled from 2004 to 2009.

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