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Dedicated, passionate, collaborative, and hard-working— those four words were used to describe Ashley Bush, DrPH, in her nomination for the Safe States Rising Star Award.

Bush, the principal investigator and epidemiologist of the Kentucky Violence and Injury Prevention Program (KVIPP), was among four recipients of the 2021 Rising Star Award. The award recognizes new professionals making strides in the discipline of injury and violence prevention.

“I was surprised but excited that someone saw my passion put into practice for injury and violence prevention,” Bush said.

The Rising Star Award recognizes newer professionals and students working in the field less than five years that are making great strides in the discipline of injury and violence prevention, according to the Safe States Alliance. Bush was nominated and then chosen to receive the award by the Safe States Award Subcommittee.

Bush employs a hands-on approach with strategies and activities that align with the priority focus areas for KVIPP, which is housed at the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), a bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH).

KVIPP focuses on several injury prevention areas, including transportation safety, falls, adverse childhood experiences, and traumatic brain injuries, in populations across Kentucky.

Bush said this grant allows “us to move on upstream” to prevent injuries at the population health level “using a shared risk and protective factors approach.”

“The benefit to preventing injuries and violence among Kentuckians is that we can work to improve the quality of life down the road,” she said. “It’s going to reduce premature death and disabilities and strengthen communities.”

KVIPP was recently awarded a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant under the CDC Core State Injury Prevention Program (Core SIPP). Core SIPP-funded grants support infrastructure, data, and partnerships to identify and respond to existing and emerging injury threats with data-driven public health actions. Kentucky is one of 23 states awarded Core SIPP funds, and the funding cycle is for five years, 2021–2026.

“Receiving this grant is more than crafting a well-written application; it also adds to the work we have been doing under previous grant cycles with our partners across the Commonwealth,” stated Bush. “The impact of this allows us to grow these partnerships, trainings, resources, and our reach into communities, impacting them in meaningful ways. Some of these programs are working with or starting at younger ages to shift the cultural and social norms. Like with our teen driving program, Kentucky Checkpoints™—you have to start younger to build those habits and the knowledge base to make more experienced, safer drivers.”

The Rising Star Award was presented at the 2021 Safe States annual conference. The three others who received Rising Star honors were Robert Curran, New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, MegAnn Smith, North Carolina Division of Public Health, and Klaudia Wojciechowska, Indiana Department of Health.

KVIPP is part of KIPRC, which is a unique partnership between DPH and the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health. KIPRC serves both as an academic injury prevention research center and as a bona fide agent of DPH for statewide injury prevention and control.