Founding Steering Committee

The UF-VA Bioethics Unit Chair

Joseph E. Thornton, M.D.Joseph E. Thornton

Head of the UF-VA Bioethics Unit of the International Chair of Bioethics,

a World Medical Association Cooperating Center.




The UF-VA Bioethics Secretary

Dawn-Christi M. Bruijnzeel, M.D.Dawn-Christi M. Bruijnzeel

Dr. Bruijnzeel received her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in Neurobiological Sciences. She also completed medical school and the general psychiatry residency program at the University of Florida. Throughout her training, she developed an interest in schizophrenia and community psychiatry. She spent almost 7 years working on the inpatient psychiatric unit at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center where she ran a treatment team for patients with psychosis. In late 2011, she transitioned to a VA outpatient program called Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC) that combines her interests in serious mental illness and community work. The program helps veterans with mental illness reintegrate into the community. In 2016, she once again moved back onto the inpatient psychiatry unit at the VA, where she currently serves as medical director and manages an inpatient team for veterans with psychotic disorders.


Dr. Bruijnzeel’s other clinical focus is the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as a treatment for mood disorders and thought disorders. As Director of ECT Services at the VA, she performs evaluations and ECT treatments for veterans. She has expanded the ECT program and is also working on establishing a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) program at the VA.


Chair of the Steering Committee

Rajiv TandonRajiv Tandon, M.D.

Rajiv Tandon, MD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine and a board-certified psychiatrist. He is a graduate of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) and at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He subsequently obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a diploma in Management Development from the Harvard Business School. He served on the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan from 1987-2004; in addition, he served as the Director of the Schizophrenia Program from 1987-2000 and Director of the Hospital and Community Services Division from 1996-2000.

Dr. Tandon’s principal research interests are in the neurobiology of schizophrenia, classification of psychiatric disorders (he served on the DSM-5 workgroup for psychotic disorders), and psychopharmacology. He has over 300 scientific publications and has received several national and international awards for research and training. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Asian Journal of Psychiatry and is the immediate Past-President of the Florida Psychiatric Society and the Florida chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).


Veterans Hospital (VA) Members

Note: all have University of Florida faculty appointments

  • Joseph Thornton, M.D. (Head of the Unit, ex officio)
  • Dawn Bruijnzell, M.D. (Secretary of the Unit, ex officio)
  • Eloise Harmon, M.D. (Chair, VA Bioethics Committee; Director MICU at VA)
  • Lawrence Hood, M.D. (Associate Chief of Staff for Education)
  • Ronald I. Shorr, M.D. (Director, GRECC)
  • Uma Suryadevara, M.D. (VA Psychiatry Education Coordinator)
  • Ana Turner, M.D.( Psychiatry Medical Student Coordinator)
  • Stephen Welch, M.D. (Forensic Psychiatry)

University of Florida (UF Health) members

  • William L. Allen, J.D. (UF Bioethics Program)
  • Regina Bussing, M.D. Chair, Psychiatry – Child Psychiatry
  • Brian Cooke, M.D. ( Medical Student Education; UF Bioethics Committee)
  • Shenary Cotter, M.D. (UF Family Medicine, Global medicine program)
  • Jacqueline Hobbs, M.D. (Psychiatry residency Director, UF Bioethics Trained)
  • Lauren Solberg, J.D., M.T.S. (UF Bioethics Program)


  • Russell F D’Souza M.D. Head Asia Pacific Bioethics Program Chair in Bioethics Australia
  • Caroline Nickerson, Executive Assistant, UF-VA Bioethics Unit