The Honorable Jeffrey W. Runge, MD, FACEP
Areas of Focus:
Biodefense strategy and countermeasures
Medical preparedness and emergency medical care
Road transportation safety
Injury Prevention and Control
Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, US Department of Homeland Security (2005 – 2008)
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2001 – 2005)
Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine
Jeffrey W. Runge has decades of clinical, research, leadership and administrative experience. In addition to seven years as the head of two government agencies with as many as 1000 employees and contractors under his direction, he brings nearly 30 years of experience as an emergency medicine physician. Until 2001 he practiced and taught in North Carolina’s busiest emergency department and trauma center, while performing research in injury prevention, trauma care, and emergency service delivery.
With government administrative experience and rich experience in EMS and trauma management, Dr. Runge was a natural fit to become the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) first Chief Medical Officer, where he led the reorganization of biodefense operations into a new Office of Health Affairs. To execute this mission, Dr. Runge and his team worked across traditional boundaries in government and the private sector to bring together various stakeholders in biodefense and medical preparedness on behalf of DHS.
“Biodefense is an enterprise with many stakeholders and responsible parties, all of which must contribute to its success. Likewise, the medical response to disasters is largely a private sector responsibility, whether it is medical care delivery or the availability of countermeasures,” Dr. Runge says. “I believe there are ample opportunities for the private sector to lead and take ownership in biodefense and medical preparedness and to profit from it.”
His leadership and innovation in road traffic safety brought him to Washington as the head of NHTSA, where he instituted programs that led to the first absolute declines in U.S. motor vehicle deaths in nearly a decade and the lowest highway fatality rate in history. His emphasis on safety belt use using the innovative “Click It or Ticket” program led to national belt use over 80%, saving over 3000 lives a year. Dr. Runge’s focus on rollover crashes using the 5-star rating program and crash avoidance technology led to an industry-wide redesign of SUVs to improve their safety as family vehicles. His expertise in road safety and emergency medical service delivery remains highly valued by government and the private sector.
Dr. Runge is a 1977 graduate of the University of the South, Sewanee, TN, and received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1981. He has been honored by both institutions in recent years as a Distinguished Alumnus. Dr. Runge is board certified in Emergency Medicine and has published over 60 articles in the medical literature in the fields of emergency medicine, traffic injury control and medical preparedness. He has testified 25 times in Congress and various state legislatures on highway safety and homeland security issues.