DAVIS (CBS SF) – The University of California, Davis will become home to the first state-funded center in the country dedicated to studying gun violence, the school announced Monday.

Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medical physician and authority in the field of firearm violence research, will direct the center.

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“Funding for violence prevention research is crucial now, as we have a lot of catching up to do,” Wintemute said, citing a two-decade long moratorium on funding firearm research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Lack of a federal funding stream has prevented a full understanding of the root causes of violence and effective approaches to contain it. We are thrilled that UC Davis will be the lead campus for the new center. Firearm violence is a major problem, and we’re ready to get to work,” Wintemute said.

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According to the Journal Nature, Wintemute has contributed nearly $1 million of his own money towards studying gun violence.

UC President Janet Napolitano said the center “demonstrates great leadership” by the state and “presents a unique opportunity” for the university to research the issue. Napolitano said other campuses will contribute to the gun violence research effort.

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The center will be headquartered at the UC Davis Sacramento campus and will be funded by a $5 million appropriation over the next five years.