Gary Slutkin, M.D.

CeaseFire Founder and Professor of Epidemiology and International Health

Gary Slutkin is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and the founder of CeaseFire, a unique, interdisciplinary, public health approach to violence prevention.

Slutkin is a physician trained in medicine, infectious disease control and reversing epidemics. In the early 1980s, Slutkin ran the Tuberculosis Program for the city of San Francisco when an epidemic of tuberculosis was occurring related to an influx of Vietnamese refugees. This effort increased the cure rate from 50% to 95%, dropped TB cases by over 50% and prevented a large scale epidemic of drug-resistant tuberculosis seen in several other cities throughout the country. Slutkin left San Francisco to move to Somalia where he worked on cholera and tuberculosis epidemics in refugees; and became assistant to the Director of Primary Health Care for the country. From Somalia, Slutkin was recruited by the World Health Organization Global Program on AIDS where he was assigned responsibility for supporting the Uganda AIDS epidemic. Uganda became the only country in Africa where the AIDS epidemic has been reversed. He also was responsible for developing the evaluation methods for measuring the spread of AIDS and documenting results, which are now used by over 90 countries.

In 1995, Slutkin requested leave from WHO to return to the U.S. to work on the violence epidemic in the U.S. He began this work with a 6 month period in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health in 1994, and since 1995 has been working with Chicago leaders, clergy, community, and law enforcement to develop and implement a new strategy for violence reduction.

The first results of CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, show an average of 45% reduction in shootings in the five neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods are showing up to 67% reductions. Project methods focus heavily on outreach workers hired from the community, clergy outreach, public education and community responses all working toward changing norms and expectations and to provide realistic alternatives.

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