In DepthPUBLIC HEALTH

NIH quietly shelves gun research program

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Science  15 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6356, pp. 1082
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6356.1082

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Summary

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wasn't coy when it responded to a call from then-President Barack Obama for government agencies to do firearm research. The president's plea came on the heels of a gunman's murder of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December, 2012. Nine months later, the huge biomedical research agency issued three notices encouraging scientists to apply to do research on violence and its prevention, particularly firearm research. NIH has since spent $18 million funding 22 projects. But the agency has now let the gun research program lapse, Science has learned. It stopped taking applications in January, despite a written plea from a score of scientists, and the last new awards are now being launched. Last week, an agency spokesperson said that renewal of the program "is still under consideration," but gave no timeline for when the agency would reach a decision.