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Pitt and Community Partners Awarded $3.9 Million for Violence Prevention Research


PITTSBURGH , April 2008 — The University of Pittsburgh, in association with Auberle, Holy Family Social Services and the Kingsley Association, will receive $3.9 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to study the causes and prevention of violence.

The project will examine how such factors as brain function and environmental characteristics may interact to place children at risk for violent behavior. A key component of the study will be an evaluation of the Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) Program, designed to target young children at risk for developing serious violent tendencies later in life.

“We are very excited about this project, which we anticipate will benefit the Pittsburgh community by rigorously testing regional intervention strategies, while broadly improving knowledge about the prevention of violence,” said Jeffrey Burke, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-principal investigator of the research effort.

Youth violence harms victims and their families, places huge burdens on public services and distresses communities. Homicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24. Violence prevention research seeks to identify the risk factors that increase the likelihood of a young person’s engaging in violent behaviors and tests approaches to lessen these risks.

“We’re glad this grant will result in a full evaluation of the SNAP program, which we and others worked so hard to start here in Pittsburgh. It has a successful track record of improving behavior and sharply lowering delinquency of troubled boys ages 6 to 12 in many sites in Canada, and the evaluation here will be helpful in building support for sustained funding,” noted Tom Canfield, a partner at Pittsburgh Social Venture Partners, another local organization involved with the violence prevention research efforts.

The grant was awarded as part of Pennsylvania’s share of the national tobacco settlement for 2007-08. These are competitive grants focusing on specific research priorities that are established and reviewed annually by the statewide Health Research Advisory Committee. Each research grant also is required to address the reduction of health disparities among underserved segments of the population.

In addition, the project will include research training programs for minority students and faculty at the University of Pittsburgh to help diversify applicants for high-level research positions. These grants are awarded as part of the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program, which supports clinical, health services and biomedical research.

Auberle, Holy Family Social Services and the Kingsley Association are local community organizations that provide social programming assistance and support to children and families in the Pittsburgh region.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is one of the nation’s leading medical schools, renowned for its curriculum that emphasizes both the science and humanity of medicine and its remarkable growth in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant support, which has more than doubled since 1998. For fiscal year 2006, the University ranked sixth out of more than 3,000 entities receiving NIH support with respect to the research grants awarded to its faculty. The majority of these grants were awarded to the faculty of the medical school. As one of the university’s six Schools of the Health Sciences, the School of Medicine is the academic partner of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Their combined mission is to train tomorrow’s health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care.


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