NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Former NIAMS Executive Officer Bruun Mourned

Dr. Bruun
Dr. Robert Lewis Bruun

Dr. Robert Lewis “Bob” Bruun, former NIAMS executive officer, passed away from complications of esophageal cancer on June 11 in Davis, Calif., surrounded by family. He was 73.

Bruun served for more than 22 years as a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service. Before joining NIH, he worked in a management capacity with PHS hospitals in Baltimore and Nassau Bay, Tex.

Former NIAMS administrative officer Melvin Broadus remembered, “His knowledge and mastery of the field of management was second to none. When he spoke, we listened.”

Bruun graduated from Loyola University’s School of Business Administration (Chicago) in 1965 and went on to earn an M.B.A. in health care administration from George Washington University in 1968. He received a doctorate in health services administration from Johns Hopkins University in 1980.

Bruun came to NIH in 1983, working as an associate administrator at the Clinical Center. In 1987, he was appointed EO at the newly established NIAMS. As the lead architect of NIAMS’s initial administrative structure, Bruun helped guide NIAMS from its infancy to the institute it is today.

“Bob was very personable, a superb manager and very active in the NIH community,” said Dr. Steven Hausman, former NIAMS deputy director.

In 1990, Bruun received the PHS Outstanding Service Medal for his work establishing the administrative management program at NIAMS.

Long-time friend and co-worker Nancy Middendorf said, “Bob cared. He cared about people, he cared about his work and he cared about his family. He put in long hours at work, but always balanced his time for his wife and young, growing family. Everyone liked and respected Bob. He had a wonderful sense of humor, which he often used to diffuse awkward situations, and he was a great storyteller. Even in his death, when I think of Bob, I get a big, warm smile from the inside out. He was my friend.”

Bruun had a lifelong appreciation for international adventure. As a young man, he spent some time in Europe. He hitchhiked from Rome to Copenhagen and back with a sign reading “American college student.” He also attempted to hitchhike across the Sahara desert.

Bruun is survived by Joanne, his wife of 45 years, and children Andrew, Matthew, Dan and Suzanne.—Colleen Dundas

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