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Injury and Violence Prevention Research Lab (IVPRL)

Our mission is to improve injury and violence prevention and to advance treatment for mental health for youth and adults through rigorous and innovative research.

Youth violence

Youth violence is a major public health problem that has lasting negative consequences for victims and perpetrators that can be seen into adulthood. Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for youth, and over 1000 youths are treated in the emergency department for assault-related injuries each day. Youth violence costs more than $20 billion each year.1 Our research aims to understand risk and protective factors for youth violence, as well as to develop and evaluate prevention strategies for youth violence. Our research on youth violence includes gun violence, aggression, teen dating violence, sexual violence, child to parent violence, violent extremism/radicalization, and suicide.

Firearm-related violence

Firearm-related injuries are the fifth leading cause of death across the lifespan in the US, claiming approximately 109 American lives each day.2 The homicide firearm fatality rate for Richmond youth under the age of 25 significantly exceeds both state and national rates. Our research focuses on developing prevention and intervention programs (e.g., Firearm Counseling Program), and better understanding the psychosocial mediators that impact the efficacy of these programs, in order to reduce firearm-related violence, re-injury, and mortality in adults and youth at heightened risk (e.g., victims of violence). We are also collaborating with external partnerships (Virginia Department of Health) on epidemiological research to evaluate the prevalence of nonfatal firearm injury incidence rates within the state of Virginia.

Intimate partner violence, sexual violence and human trafficking

Approximately one 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience some form of lifetime intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.3 The global prevalence of IPV and sexual violence has only intensified with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research aims to better understand the mechanisms and characteristics of, and risk and protective factors for, intimate partner violence in order to better inform prevention, intervention, and advocacy programs for survivors of sexual- and IPV-related violence.


Suicide, notably on the rise nationwide in some populations, is the 2nd leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 to 34, claiming more than two and a half times as many American lives in 2018 than homicide.4 Our research aims to examine the characteristics of, and risk and protective factors for, suicidal thoughts and behaviors in both youth and adults.

Substance abuse

Substance abuse continues to remain a critical public health issue within the US. Findings indicate that in 2018 alone, approximately 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had experienced a substance use disorder within the past year.5 Our research aims to better understand the biological, psychological, and social mechanisms and consequences of substance use and abuse in vulnerable populations (e.g., NGRI acquittees, individuals with serious mental illness, youth and adults from the general population) and develop targeted initiatives to prevent and treat substance use disorders.

Road traffic injury

The preventable consequences of co-occurring risky behaviors and substance use (e.g., impaired driving) are a major public health concern in the United States, where an estimated 29 people die each day from crashes related to alcohol-impaired driving, costing more than 44 billion dollars annually.6 Our research centers on developing prevention programs for at-risk youth and adults, focused specifically on the reduction of risky behaviors and decision-making, particularly in regards to driving under the influence.

Fall prevention

About 36 million older adults fall each year, which results in 32,000 preventable deaths.7 Our research on fall prevention focuses on the development and evaluation of effective fall prevention strategies for individuals.

Psychopathology across the lifespan

Nearly 1 in 5 adults and approximately half of adolescents live with a mental illness.8 Our research on psychopathology across the lifespan aims to understand the mechanisms and treatment strategies for serious mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia), personality disorders (psychopathy, borderline personality disorder), and psychiatric disorders in youth (e.g., conduct disorder, callous unemotional traits). Our research integrates innovative treatment approaches (e.g., cutting edge virtual reality technology, eye tracking), as well as biopsychosocial approach to understanding mechanisms.

1 CDC. (2020). Preventing Youth Violence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2 CDC. (2020). Firearm Violence Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3 CDC. (2020). Intimate Partner Violence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NIMH, (2020). Suicide. National Institute of Mental Health.
SAMHSA. (2019). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54 (Vol. 170).
CDC Injury Center. (2018). Impaired Driving: Get the Facts. Motor Vehicle Safety.
CDC, 2020. Keep on Your Feet-Preventing Older Adult Falls. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
NIMH, (2020). Mental Illness. National Institute of Mental Health