"Go forth and comfort the troubled, and trouble the comfortable."

Principal Investigator

Desmond Runyan, MD, DrPH, is the principal investigator for the CWTS as the Jack and Viki Thompson professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado and executive director of the Kempe Center. His philosophy of leadership is one of altruism—the development of the people who work for him is most important.

Des completed his MD degree and a pediatric residency at the University of Minnesota, following that with a doctorate in public health and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in 1983. He is board certified in pediatrics, child abuse pediatrics, and preventive medicine.

Des has researched child abuse for more than thirty-five years while maintaining a clinical practice evaluating possible child abuse victims and serving as a general pediatrics faculty member at the UNC School of Medicine. He was also a professor and chairman of the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Social Medicine. His research has addressed the identification and consequences of child abuse and neglect, including specific patterns of abuse such as shaken baby syndrome and Munchausen syndrome by proxy. In 1989 he designed and secured funding for the longest multisite prospective study of the consequences of child abuse; LONGSCAN is now twenty-four years old. This prospective study of 1,354 children in five states who were either reported for maltreatment or judged to be at very high risk of maltreatment has produced more than 120 scientific papers and more than 25 doctoral dissertations. Des has worked with international medical school faculty in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Israel, the Philippines, Brazil, and Chile to increase child abuse knowledge among medical providers.

In his free time, Des can be found sailboat racing on Cherry Creek Reservoir (though he maintains that North Carolina is better for that), skiing, or enjoying the opportunities of Denver’s urban environment.