Massachusetts General launches center to prevent gun violence

Amid growing interest in the medical community to address firearm injuries in the U.S. as a public health threat, Massachusetts General Hospital announced the launch of the new Mass General Center for Gun Violence Prevention this week. 

The center was founded by pediatric surgeon Peter Masiakos, who is the director of the pediatric trauma service at Mass General and associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and Chana Sacks, an HMS instructor in medicine at Mass General. Mass General has committed $1.2 million over the next three years in seed funding for the center and HMS has pledged $200,000 in support over a two-year period. There are plans to raise additional funding through philanthropy.

The creation center follows efforts by a coalition of Mass General clinicians formed in 2015 to address firearm-related violence, featuring the development of clinical guidance and resources to inform conversations with patients and the public. That group collaborated with organizations and policymakers—such as the Massachusetts General Hospital Physicians Organization, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, the office of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, the Boston Police Department and Mass General’s Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies—on a variety of initiatives, such as providing free gun locks, sponsoring gun buyback programs and co-hosting a hack-a-thon to develop innovative solutions.

“We as a medical community have a role to play in ending this public health crisis,” Sacks said in a release. “We hope to arm clinicians with tools to discuss firearm safety and violence prevention with patients to conduct research to better understand opportunities for intervention and to be advocates for our patients and communities.”