How This Sandy Hook Foundation Plans to Fund Research Into Violence

The Avielle Foundation was created by the parents of first-grader Avielle Rose Richman, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. The foundation aims to fund research that explores what leads people like Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza to commit such violent acts. Avielle hasn't provided any grants yet, but it has received a lot of press and it recently named three members of the scientific advisory board (SAB) that will guide its funding.

Examining the careers and scientific interests of these members will provide a look into the projects that the Avielle Foundation may be interested in supporting.

Dr. Terrie E. Moffitt is a brain health expert and professor of neuroscience at Duke University and the Institute of Psychology at King's College London. Her interests are in antisocial, violent, and criminal behavior, but also depression, psychosis, and substance abuse. Moffit has codirected several longitudinal studies and looks into the genetic and environmental origins of psychiatric disorders.

Dr. John H. Krystal is the chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital. He is the author of more than 400 papers investigating the neurobiology and treatment of addiction and mental disorders, and he aims to integrate psychopharmacology, neuroimaging, and molecular genetics.

Dr. James Blair is the chief of the unit on Affective Cognitive Neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health. His interest is in the neuro-cognitive systems of affect and how they are distorted as a part of mood and anxiety disorders. Specifically, his focus is on youth conduct disorder. In researching these topics, he relies on neuropsychology and functional imaging, psychopharmacology, and molecular genetics.

As the grantmaking of the Avielle Foundation gets underway, it will begin to implement its "two-pronged" approach to reducing violence. First, the foundation aims to further innovating brain health research, education, and policy. And secondly, it hopes to promote community engagement and responsbility in preventing violence. By reducing the barriers to finding mental health treatment, Avielle hopes to detect and treat those who are at risk of violent behavior before they act.

The foundation hopes to begin reviewing grant applications late this year.