James A. Mercy, PhD

James A. Mercy

Director, Division of Violence Prevention


Areas of Expertise

  • Global violence prevention
  • Child maltreatment
  • Youth violence

James A. Mercy, PhD, is the Director of the Division of Violence Prevention (DVP) at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. In this role, he provides leadership to innovative research and science-based programs to prevent violence and reduce its consequences.

Dr. Mercy has worked to develop the public health approach to violence prevention for more than 40 years. Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Mercy oversaw global activities in DVP and implemented surveys on violence against children in developing countries as part of a global partnership called Together for Girls with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the World Health Organization (WHO), and others. He began working at CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer and was one of the first to examine violence as a public health problem.

As a researcher, Dr. Mercy has authored more than 250 publications that span the areas of child maltreatment, youth and intimate partner violence, homicide, suicide, and firearm injuries. He has received honors from CDC, the Public Health Service (PHS), and Research America for his sustained outstanding leadership in bringing about the recognition of violence as a public health problem and establishing a scientific basis for the prevention of violent injuries. In 2019 he was awarded the William C. Watson Jr. Medal of Excellence, the premiere service award for CDC employees.   He also served as a co-editor of the World Report on Violence and Health prepared by WHO and on the Editorial Board of the United Nation’s Secretary General’s Study of Violence Against Children.

Dr. Mercy received his master’s and doctorate degrees in sociology from Emory University. He is an adjunct associate professor of sociology at Emory University and at the Public Health Institute at Georgia State University, both in Atlanta.