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Patrick H. Tolan is the Charles S. Robb Professor of Education at the University of Virginia (UVA) in the Curry School of Education, and in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine. He is Director Emeritus of the Youth-Nex Center, the UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development.
A respected and renowned leader in the field of positive youth development and prevention, Patrick has conducted research for 34 years on programs promoting youth development, preventing problems, and understanding and affecting youth violence. He led several large-scale randomized-control studies of school programming, demonstrating how family and student support can improve school engagement, reduce violence, and promote prosocial engagement of youth. These studies have provided insights and innovations for how families managed the challenges of under-resourced schools and unsafe neighborhoods, the complex determinants of violence, and how neighborhoods affect risk for school failure, delinquency, and mental health problems.
At present, he heads up the 7-year $11.75 million group randomized trial, the Compassionate Schools Project, a collaboration with the City of Louisville and the Jefferson County Public Schools. The Compassionate Schools Project is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of a 21st century health and wellness curriculum in an elementary or secondary school setting. Facilitating the integrated development of mind and body, the project interweaves support in academic achievement, mental fitness, health, and compassionate character. The research aims to have a major impact on children’s education Nationwide in terms of academic performance, physical education, character development, and child health policies due to its extraordinary scale of 50 schools and 20,000 children over the project’s seven years.
Patrick has been the Principal Investigator on multiple National Institute of Health (NIH) and other funded projects and is a frequent contributor to the scientific literature having authored over 200 publications. His latest book is, Gene-Environment Transactions in Developmental Psychopathology: The Role in Intervention Research, a volume in the Brain Research Foundation Symposium Series he edits. (Springer, 2017). He was the lead editor on Preventing Youth Substance Abuse: Science-based Programs for Children and Adolescents (American Psychological Association, 2007).
Patrick has received several awards for his devotion to child advocacy and policy and for his contributions to understanding youth violence. Among them are the Presidential Award from the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) (2018), a “lifetime achievement” award given to an individual or a team of individuals who have made a major specific contribution to prevention science research and for a significant body of research that has had a major impact on the field, the Nicholas Hobbs Award from the Society for Child and Family Practice and Policy (APA) (2016) for exemplifying the ideals and devotion to child advocacy/policy characterized by Nicholas Hobbs, the American Psychological Association Presidential Citation (2008) for his contributions to theory and empirical understanding of youth violence; and the Star of Science Award from the Children’s Brain Research Foundation (2007) for his contributions to theory and empirical understanding of youth violence.