Newswise — The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has appointed a leading national expert in gun violence prevention, Daniel Webster, as its first Bloomberg Professor of American Health, an endowed position supported by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. 

Launched in 2016 with a $300 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Initiative aims to tackle five complex and urgent threats to public health in the United States: drug addiction and overdose, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, risks to adolescent health and violence. As part of the Initiative, Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, will lead new educational, research and practice efforts to reduce violence in the United States.

“Violence–particularly gun violence–destroys lives and rends the fabric of our communities, from our great cities to rural communities across the country,” said Ronald J. Daniels, Johns Hopkins University President. “Daniel’s expertise and contributions to the field of violence prevention have made an extraordinary impact on local and national policy that aims to reverse this persistent threat,” he said. “The Bloomberg American Health Initiative is helping us rethink our approach to urgent public health challenges in the United States, and Daniel is a proven scholar who will help us achieve that goal.” 

“Evidence-driven public health approaches are critical to reversing the trend of gun violence in the United States,” said Bloomberg School Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie. “Naming Dr. Webster the first Bloomberg Professor of American Health underscores the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s continued commitment to addressing this pervasive threat to American lives and communities.”

Webster joined the Bloomberg School faculty in 1992. Over the past 25 years, his research and policy analyses have helped shape local, state and federal policies on gun violence prevention. Nationally, his research on handgun purchaser licensing and background checks led to the introduction of federal legislation in the U.S. House and Senate in 2015, and was the basis for a national faith-based advocacy campaign. President Obama cited this research in his 2016 address to the nation on gun violence as evidence in support of universal background checks.

“No other developed country in the world has even close to the rate of gun deaths we have in the U.S., and we can’t accept that,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City. “This new position will support the great work Dr. Webster is leading on gun violence and help build evidence for smart policies that can prevent more needless deaths.”

In Baltimore, Webster advises the Mayor’s Office, Police Department and Health Department on strategies to reduce gun violence. He co-chairs the advisory board for Safe Streets, a public health program to prevent shootings involving youth by changing behaviors and social norms related to gun violence. Webster has led Baltimore’s Homicide Review Commission and now leads the Johns Hopkins-Baltimore Collaborative for Violence Reduction, a partnership between Johns Hopkins, the Baltimore Police Department and State’s Attorney’s Office to promote data-driven innovation to reduce violence and improve police-community relations.

Webster earned his Doctor of Science degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1991, his Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan in 1985 and his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Colorado in 1982.

The Bloomberg American Health Initiative will support 25 endowed positions over the next five years, deepening the School’s expertise and impact in the Initiative’s five focus areas, each vital to American health.

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