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Dr. Carol Runyan: Contributions to the Center and the Field
Established center as a leader, highlights injury as critical public health issue
By Stephanie Gillam, Journalism Intern
After nearly 25 years of dedicated service to the IPRC, Dr. Carol Runyan, co-founder and longtime leader of the center, stepped down as director in July 2011. In her time at the UNC IPRC, Dr. Carol Runyan brought much-needed attention to the topic of injury prevention and control on a regional and national level and established the center as a leader in the field.
In 1985, Carol Runyan organized and chaired the Injury Prevention Task Force of UNC’s newly developed Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. The task force grew into the IPRC when, in 1987, Runyan formed the center with founding director Dr. Patricia Waller. It was funded and designated by the CDC as one of the initial five national “Centers of Excellence,” to serve as a leading establishment for training and information on injury prevention. Two years later, Carol Runyan became the director of the IPRC, taking up the charge to further advance the center as an institution of distinction. During her time at UNC IPRC, she facilitated the center’s support of investigators who have become national leaders in many areas, including concussion prevention, sports and recreational injury, child maltreatment, residential safety and occupational safety.
As she was helping to position the center at the forefront of the injury movement, Dr. Carol Runyan continued to contribute to the field through her own research. In a special paper for The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
, she brought attention to the issue of adolescent injury. She implemented a CDC-funded study on self-protection strategies for women and contributed to the growing body of knowledge on femicide. Then, in 1998, she published an article expanding on the Haddon model, a widely used tool for developing and implementing injury prevention measures. It became a critical component of the injury literature, and, for a time, was the most accessed article in Injury Prevention
Her dedication to raising awareness of the injury problem and prevention has been ceaseless. In 1984, she co-authored one of the first published studies documenting the injury problem in the state. Her work on emergency-department surveillance led to the establishment of the CDC’s surveillance standards (DEEDS) which gave rise to the development of the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT), a statewide tracking and reporting system that provides valuable public health data. And long before webinars and internet training, she implemented, via satellite feed, the first live teleconference on injury in the nation, attended by more than 1000 participants. This dedication to spreading the message of prevention includes the PREVENT (Preventing Violence through Education, Networking and Technical Assistance) and PREVENT Child Maltreatment Programs, which have trained over 900 professionals from 44 states in the National Training Initiative’s core competencies in injury and violence prevention, which Dr. Carol Runyan helped develop.
In Carol Runyan’s more recent years at the center – and with her list of professional accomplishments growing ever longer - she lost no momentum. She conducted numerous studies on the issue of youth labor, implementing various studies at the state and national levels. The resulting data led not only to significant print, radio and television coverage, but also went on to be utilized in the development of policy decisions by the U.S. Department of Labor. And she hasn’t stopped advocating for expanded funding and support of injury prevention research, leading the call for continued support of the field in a 2010paper in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Carol Runyan’s call for support is backed by years of her own personal investment in the field: the fostering of the next generation of injury control researchers and practitioners.
Carol Runyan’s commitment to the field, students and junior faculty will live on at UNC IPRC. In 2010, Runyan established the John D. Butts Student Support and Scholarship Fund
, which is used to support UNC students with a focus on injury, and particularly injury related fatality, prevention. The Carol W. Runyan Chair in Injury Prevention
will provide support to exceptional junior faculty working in the field. To support either of these funds, please visit http://giving.unc.edu/gift/iprc
In August 2012, Dr. Runyan joined the faculty of the Colorado School of Public Health as Professor of Epidemiology with a joint appointment in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health and Pediatrics. And in continuance of her outstanding commitment and notable contributions to the field of injury prevention, she has joined the staff of the Colorado Injury Control Research Center as Director of the Training and Education Core. She also will be leading the Pediatric Injury Prevention, Education and Research (PIPER) Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
As she continues working to advance the field, Runyan knows the center will keep up its efforts as well. “I'm really proud of the service that our center has been able to provide as a world leader in injury control,” she said. “I have every hope and expectation that that will continue.”