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Injury research center gets CDC grant

The UNC Injury Prevention Research Center applied for the award in the fall of 2013 and received the grant Aug. 1.

The injury center selected four projects that can have an impact on public safety out of about 24 contenders to be included in its proposal, said Steve Marshall, director of the injury center.

“Our theme was to do great research and put it in the hands of people so (the research) can make a difference,” Marshall said.

Kevin Guskiewicz, senior associate dean for the natural sciences, and co-principal investigator Jason Mihalik will research safe high school football tackling practices and present their results at high schools in a three-year program, said Guskiewicz, who has previously received CDC funding to research sports injuries.

“This time, I think they viewed this as a unique extension of our ongoing work,” Guskiewicz said.

Another three-year program is being led by Laura Linnan, director of the Carolina Collaborative for Research on Work and Health. Linnan’s project, called Beauty is a Balancing Act, will use beauty salons and barber shops to distribute information about injuries from falls and preventative programs.

Linnan believes that spreading information to customers will encourage them to attend fall prevention clinics.

“We know if we get them to participate, it can help them,” she said.

UNC health behavior adjunct professor Christopher Ringwalt will look into the prescription drug-monitoring program in the state to determine if recently mandated changes in state law have affected prescription drug abuse.

Robert Foss, a health behavior lecturer, will begin a study in 2017 to see if driver’s license laws negatively affect racial minorities and economically disadvantaged teenagers.

“Nobody has taken the bull by the horns and decided to do this before,” he said.

Foss explained that economically disadvantaged teens might not have a parent figure at home to teach them to drive.

“The reason we do this is because we care about adolescent injuries,” Foss said. “Researchers are curious about how things works and how things can work better.”

UNC’s Injury Prevention Research Center is one of three programs at universities around the country that received a grant from the CDC this fall. The University of Pennsylvania received startup funding, while UNC and Johns Hopkins both received comprehensive funding. The UNC research center has been receiving funding from the CDC since 1987.

The money could total a maximum of $4.5 million over the next five years.

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