Behavioral Health and Injury Prevention: The Emergency Department as a Window to Community and Population Health

Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.
March 23, 2021, 2:00pm – 3:00pm EDT
Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.
Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.

Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.

Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.
Professor, Emergency Medicine
Director, Injury Prevention Center
Vice President for Research, University of Michigan (U-M) Office of Research
Principal Investigator, FACTS
University of Michigan Medical School


This presentation will provide an overview of violence prevention among emergency department patients including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) best practice program SafERteens. Participants will understand the longitudinal outcomes of emergency department youth regarding substance use and violence including how to utilize the SAFETY score to predict risk for firearm injury. Review the history of firearm injury prevention research and the capacity-building Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development–funded Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens (FACTS) grant.



Dr. Rebecca Cunningham is vice president for research at U-M, where she is responsible for fostering the excellence and integrity of research across all three campuses. As vice president, Cunningham leads the Office of Research, whose mission is to catalyze, support, and safeguard U-M research.

She has vast experience as a researcher, administrator, educator, and clinician, including more than 20 years spent as an emergency medicine physician at U-M and Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.

Dr. Cunningham served as the associate vice president for research–health sciences from 2017 to 2019, where she oversaw the portfolio of research faculty affairs, and partnered with colleagues across campus to facilitate and energize the university’s research agenda.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Cunningham’s research has focused on injury prevention, opioid overdose, substance misuse prevention, and public health. As a lead investigator, Dr. Cunningham has continuous support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies to identify ways to improve health. She served on the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission, and often provides guidance and expert testimony across multiple levels of government.

In partnership with state and local agencies, Dr. Cunningham pioneered an improved, real-time data surveillance system to track opioid overdose cases across Michigan. She secured funding from the Fogarty International Center to develop the university’s Ghana Emergency Medicine Collaborative, which improves the provision of emergency medical care in Ghana through innovative and sustainable physician, nursing, and medical student training programs.

Dr. Cunningham is the former director of the U-M Injury Prevention Center, one of ten United States injury control research centers funded by the CDC to address urgent injury issues through research, education, and outreach. She also leads a consortium of 25 researchers across 12 universities and health systems that aim to improve firearms safety through an injury prevention approach. The Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens Consortium represented a historic funding commitment from the NIH to reduce firearm injury.

Dr. Cunningham served as associate chair for research for the U-M Department of Emergency Medicine, where she oversaw and aided in the development of research portfolios of more than 100 faculty. She is the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the U-M Medical School, as well as professor of health behavior and health education at the U-M School of Public Health.

In 2019, Dr. Cunningham was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the highest honorary society in the United States for researchers in medicine and health. The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine and the American College of Emergency Physicians both awarded Cunningham with Excellence in Research Awards in 2019.