Two new endowments established with anonymous gifts to UC Davis Health System will further advance the innovative work of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.
Established by Garen J. Wintemute more than 20 years ago, the program addresses the causes, nature and prevention of violence by conducting unique leading-edge research that fuels the development of effective public policy. The program produces a wide range of in-depth studies that provide hard, scientific data and make clear connections between factors that increase gun violence and effective risk-reduction measures. These range from the prediction of criminal behavior and the effectiveness of waiting periods and background-check programs on gun purchases to the impact of stray-bullet shootings.
"Garen's longstanding commitment to understanding firearm violence and its underlying causes has produced a rich and informative body of research that directly improves the health and safety of Americans and has positioned California and UC Davis as national leaders in efforts to break the cycle of gun violence," said Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis. "The endowed chairs help to ensure that his groundbreaking, high impact work continues for years to come."
Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine and one of the nation's foremost scholars addressing firearm violence as a public health problem, is the first Susan P. Baker and Stephen P. Teret Chair in Violence Prevention at UC Davis Health System. The endowment is named after Wintemute's mentors at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who have dedicated their careers to transforming research on injury prevention into meaningful public policy.
More than 40 years ago, Baker was one of the first to apply established epidemiologic methods to address traumatic injury as a public health problem. With a focus on automobile safety, she conducted epidemiological research that led to every state in the country establishing mandatory child restraint laws and tougher graduated licensing systems for teen drivers. Teret, founding director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research, has focused on helping the public view guns as a consumer product that can be regulated and made safer.
The second endowment, the Vice Chancellor's Chair in Violence Prevention, will be held by a national leader in research on violence, injury or a related field, who will be recruited to serve as the inaugural associate director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.
"Gun violence causes approximately 30,000 deaths a year, and physicians treat approximately 75,000 nonfatal injuries in hospital emergency departments," said Wintemute. "Violence is a complex problem that has been with us throughout history, yet very little attention is paid to preventing violence. It is very exciting to be expanding this program with two endowed chair positions and building a network of dedicated health-care professionals to advance research and improve public health."
Wintemute earned his medical degree in 1977 from UC Davis School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency in family medicine. In 1982, he was medical coordinator at Nong Samet Refugee Camp in Cambodia, a remote area that had only recently been liberated from the governance of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Wintemute later returned stateside to merge his medical training with public policy, and earned an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University in 1983. He has received numerous honors from professional and academic societies and the news media for his commitment to improve public health and safety, including selection by Time magazine as one of 15 international "heroes of medicine."