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Center for Violence Prevention appoints new co-directors

Gail Williams, Ph.D., and Joe Thornton, M.D., are new co-directors of the Center for Violence Prevention, an innovative program in the School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC). They join Margaret Brackley, Ph.D., director of the center since its establishment last year. She is a professor in the department of chronic nursing care.

"Domestic and intimate partner violence is a major health problem in San Antonio, the state, the nation and the world," said Janet D. Allan, Ph.D., School of Nursing dean, in announcing the appointments. "It is the center's mission to develop greater community awareness of violence, to provide clinician training in assessment and interventions, and to promote increased interdisciplinary research and policy development on violence prevention. We are exceedingly proud to have the center directed by the capable leadership of Drs. Brackley, Thornton and Williams."

Dr. Williams, associate professor in the department of family nursing care, has been a faculty member at the Health Science Center since 1991. She earned her master's degree in psychiatric mental health nursing from Adelphi University Garden City in Long Island and her doctorate in nursing research from New York University. She is certified as a childbirth educator and as a perinatal nurse clinician. Dr. Williams has more than 20 years of teaching experience. She received the Presidential Teaching Award last year and was awarded the Yellow Rose of Texas Education Award this year.

Dr. Thornton, assistant professor of psychiatry, joined the Health Science Center in 1996. He serves as medical director of in-patient psychiatry for the University Health System and is co-executive director/co-principal investigator of the San Antonio Safe Family Coalition, a coordinated community response to prevent intimate partner violence. A grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds the coalition.

Dr. Thornton received his bachelor's degree in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin and his medical degree from the UTHSC. He completed his residency in psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as medical executive director of the Union Correctional Institution at Raiford, Fla., from 1993 to 1996 and as a member of the National Health Services Corps. He has extensive experience in psychiatry and with violence offenders.

Dr. Thornton was awarded the Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching from medical students and residents in 1997 and in 1998. He also was the recipient of the Yellow Rose of Texas Education Award for 2000. Dr. Thornton has been instrumental in the formation of an Adult Intentional Fatality Review Board in Bexar County that examines ways to prevent adult homicide and suicide.

The Center for Violence Prevention was established in the School of Nursing in January 2000 to support violence-related research, education and practice. It serves as a clearinghouse for information and resources related to violence and violence prevention. The center provides a forum for collaboration among faculty and students with multidisciplinary expertise and interest in violence-related topics. It also fosters partnerships with South Texas community organizations that have similar goals and missions.

Contact: Natalie Gutierrez or Will Sansom