Major Accomplishments

Top Ten HICRC Accomplishments

1.  Promoting the injury field
Many of HICRC activities are specifically designed to promote the relatively new field of injury prevention.  A book, While We Were Sleeping touts the field’s many successes and heroes.  We have met with Hollywood’s creative community and given presentations to meetings of foundations, added injury questions on non-injury surveys and spent weeks at other universities teaching about injury prevention.

2. Creating a National Violent Death Reporting System
In the late 1990s, the goal of creating a good surveillance (data) system for firearm injuries was dead-in-the-water.  Then HICRC obtained financial support from a half-dozen foundations, helped change the focus of the system from firearm fatalities to all violent deaths, and coordinated the pilot for the system.  In the early 2000s, HICRC handed off the system to CDC, and provided training and other assistance to their sites, leading to the current National Violent Death Reporting System.

3.  Creating a model surveillance system for youth violence
The CDC-funded Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, a component of HICRC, is working with Boston leaders to create a model data system on youth violence for the city.  This system currently includes a biennial in-class survey of high school students, a biennial phone-survey of adults, and a compilation of data for the city from publicly available sources. The system provides rich information on fear, witnessing, victimization and perpetration of verbal abuse, assaults, fights, and other forms of interpersonal adolescent violence among peers, siblings and romantic partners.

4.  Increasing scientific knowledge about firearms and public health
HICRC has assembled arguably the most accomplished team of firearms researchers in the world.  Since the mid-1990s, the team has published over 75 peer-reviewed journal articles on firearm issues, along with a book summarizing the scientific literature on guns and public health.  The team has at least ten “firsts” including being the first to:  analyze national gun storage practices, explain the overestimation of self-defense gun use; describe the policy preferences of NRA members; and examine the prevalence of firearms on college campuses.  HICRC also created and launched the Firearms Research Digest, a user-friendly online database of academic literature on firearms.

5. Increasing knowledge about the effects of drinking alcohol
HICRC has continually helped support Jonathan Howland‘s body of work that uses simulators to conduct randomized control trials of the effects of alcohol on cognitive functioning.  Among many results, a couple of beers significantly reduce ability, but the person does not know it.  Such findings, and others on hangovers, have important implications for transportation and other policies.  The results have been used by the Coast Guard to support their position on mariner alcohol use in harmonization negotiations with the International Maritime Organization.

6. Moving from research to practice in suicide prevention
HICRC is helping expand suicide prevention policy to include not only a mental health but a public health perspective through the following initiatives:  (a) Partnered with the Northeast Injury Prevention Network of injury professionals in state health departments to provide training to state suicide prevention groups and to analyze their data; (b) Co-founded the National Center for Suicide Prevention Training which has provided online training to over 3,000 participants; (c) Evaluated an intervention in our region that resulted in part from our training and research (New Hampshire’s CALM intervention-Counseling on Access to Lethal Means, a training program for providers); (d) Launched the Means Matter campaign to education state suicide prevention groups about means restriction and to disseminate the CALM intervention approach.  In 2008 Cathy Barber won a leadership award from the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention.

7. Positioning violence as a public health problem
Through the work of Deborah Prothrow-Stith and others, HICRC has been a leader in changing social awareness in understanding that violence is more than just a criminal justice problem, but a larger public health problem.  In 2004, public health researcher Dr. Prothrow-Stith won the Donald Cressey award given by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for her “outstanding academic contributions to criminology.”  In 2007, Dr. Hemenway won the excellence in science award from the injury section of the APHA.

8. Helping doctors talk to patients about violence and injuries
HICRC has continuously helped to support Bob Sege‘s innovative work with the Massachusetts Medical Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that provides tools to providers (e.g., Tip cards to give to patients, videos for patients to watch) to help them help their patients reduce violence (e.g., corporal punishment, bullying).  In 2008 Dr. Sege received the Fellowship Achievement Award, AAP’s top honor in the injury prevention field.

9. Training a new cadre of injury professionals
HICRC sponsors 5 injury courses each year at Harvard–and a whole host of other trainings including post-doctoral fellowships, internet courses, and grand rounds.  Since the mid-1990s, graduates of the program include such injury luminaries as Deborah Azrael, Renee Johnson, Matthew Miller, Beth Molnar, Emily Rothman and Maria Segui-Gomez.

10. Collaborating with the community
HICRC worked with more than sixty local, national and international institutions. Collaborations include monthly meetings with 11 community partners in Boston (e.g., Black Ministerial Alliance) and quarterly meetings with the state injury control professionals from health departments in the region.  As just a few examples of our community collaborations moving from the local to international levels, we assisted the Harvard University on protocols to identify students at risk of suicide, initiated a veterans suicide research collaborative with the Massachusetts Veterans Health Administration, helped establish a prison research collaborative across states, worked with Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth to evaluate fall injury prevention, assisted the International Association of Chiefs of Police on preventing police suicides, and assisted injury experts in Greece and the European Union writing protocols for the detection of intimate partner violence. HICRC collaborations have been called “stunning” by an external review committee.


And one more for good luck:

11. Expanding the Frontiers of Knowledge
Since 1998, Core faculty of the injury center have written over 250 peer-reviewed journal articles (and four books).