Home » Directors' Note » Directors’ Note | Recent gun violence reminds us of the work that must be done: A note from CHER Chicago on structural violence

Directors’ Note | Recent gun violence reminds us of the work that must be done: A note from CHER Chicago on structural violence

Dear friends,

At least 17 people were shot and murdered at a Florida public high school last week, by a 19 year old male, Nikolas Cruz, who used an AR-15 rifle. Both teachers and students were among those killed. Since then, high school youth, including survivors of the mass school shooting, are speaking out for changes in public policy that will prevent this type of trauma on campuses.

Dr. Robert A. Winn, Corresponding Multi-Principal Investigator of the Center for Health Equity Research Chicago (CHER Chicago), Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for Community Based Practice Director, and Director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center said, “Students, many of them children, should feel safe going to school and knowing that they will return home that day to their families. It is a travesty that social and public policy forces have made students so unsafe. This type of trauma has short-term and long-term effects on the wellbeing of our youth- the future of society.

This is why the mission of CHER Chicago is to make transformative contributions toward the elimination of structural violence through collaborative community partnerships, innovative research, and development and growth of researchers.

CHER Chicago members have long dedicated their professional lives to reducing structural violence through scientific endeavors and community engagement efforts even before CHER Chicago was established. Thus, CHER Chicago commits to being responsive and responsible.”

Dr. Jesus Ramirez-Valles, Multi-Principal Investigator of CHER Chicago and Director of Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health, said, “In an effort to reduce structural violence, I am proud to say that current research projects funded by CHER Chicago use bench and population health sciences to study the impact of stress and trauma on the human body. It is a fact that violence is a social determinant of health. CHER Chicago projects push boundaries of scientific knowledge to advance research that impacts society.”

Dr. Martha Daviglus, Multi-Principal Investigator of CHER Chicago, Director of the Institute for Minority Health Research, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said, “We aim to be an action-oriented center and this recent mass shooting reminds us of how we have much to learn from our youth. Thus, we are creating an Advisory Board with at least one seat reserved for a youth ages 12-18, one for an undergraduate student from UIC, and one for a UIC graduate student.

Given the brain trust of researchers and community members of CHER Chicago, CHER Chicago is uniquely positioned to make a difference in the scientific body of knowledge and on the ground here in Chicago and beyond.”

Dr. Rob A. Winn,  Dr. Martha Daviglus, and Dr. Jesus Ramirez-Valles

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