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Desmond Runyan, MD, DrPH

Executive Director, Kempe Center

​Dr. Desmond Runyan is the Jack and Viki Thompson professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado and Executive Director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of child Abuse and Neglect. He joined the Colorado faculty in August of 2011 after 32 years at the University of North Carolina.  At North Carolina he rose to the rank of professor in the departments of Social Medicine and Pediatrics and served as chair of Social Medicine from 1999-2007.  Runyan completed the MD degree and a pediatric residency at the University of Minnesota. He followed that with a doctorate in public health and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of North Carolina.  He is board certified in pediatrics and in preventive medicine.

Runyan has researched child abuse for over 32 years while maintaining a clinical practice evaluating possible child abuse victims and as a general pediatrics attending at UNC.  He co-founded a comprehensive child abuse center and has been appointed to the initial new sub-board of child abuse pediatrics at the American Board of Pediatrics.  Runyan’s research has addressed the identification and consequences of child abuse and neglect including specific patters of abuse such as shaken baby syndrome and Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. In 1989 he designed and secured funding for the longest multi-site prospective study of the consequences of child abuse; LONGSCAN is now 22 years old.  This is a prospective study of 1354 children in five states who either were reported for maltreatment or who were judged to be at very high risk of maltreatment. 

In addition to this domestic research, Runyan has worked with International Clinical Epidemiology Network medical school faculty in Egypt, India, the Philippines, Brazil, and Chile to increase child abuse knowledge among medical schools internationally. He has worked with WHO and UNICEF to study of child abuse epidemiology.  With collaboration for Drs. Adam Zolotor at UNC, Michael Dune at the Queensland University of Technology, and 120 other scientists from 40 countries, a new set of instruments has been developed to measure child abuse and neglect.


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