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Tanjala S. Purnell, PhD

  • Assistant Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Center & Institute Affiliations

Contact Information

2024 East Monument Street
Suite 2-600
Baltimore, Maryland 21205


Johns Hopkins University Faculty Profile
Coursera Health Equity Research MOOCs
Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation

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PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2012
MPH, The Ohio State University, 2006
BS, Tougaloo College, 2005


Tanjala Purnell PhD, MPH is an epidemiologist and health services researcher with over a decade of research experience related to identifying and addressing patient/family, healthcare system, and community factors influencing health and healthcare disparities for adults with cardiovascular disease risk factors, including hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes. In addition to her research, she is deeply committed to community engagement, teaching, and mentoring, and she speaks often on the dual impact of COVID-19 and systemic racism on health and healthcare disparities in the United States. Dr. Purnell is an Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Disease and Clinical Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She holds joint faculty appointments in the Johns Hopkins Departments of Surgery, Health Policy and Management, and Health Behavior and Society.

In her role as an Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Dr. Purnell co-leads the institute’s efforts to facilitate and recognize collaborations between communities, universities, healthcare delivery systems, government, and the private sector to build collective capacity for achieving health equity in Baltimore. She is also the Associate Director for Education and Training at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, where she leads the center’s award-winning educational and training programs for public health, nursing, and medical scholars working to advance health equity. In addition, she is the director of community and stakeholder engagement for the Hopkins Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation, core faculty at the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, and affiliated faculty with the Bloomberg American Health Initiative and the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research.

Nationally, Dr. Purnell serves as Chair of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and she previously served as Region 2 Representative to the OPTN/UNOS Minority Affairs Committee. She is a native of the Mississippi Delta and an alumna of Tougaloo College where she obtained her B.S. in Computer Science. Purnell has received several national and international research honors and has published findings from her work in leading medical and public health journals, including JAMA, Health Affairs, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, American Journal of Hypertension, American Journal of Transplantation, and Diabetes Care. She is also the recipient of multiple Teaching Excellence Awards from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Honors and Awards

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Teaching Excellence Award

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Career Development (K01) Award

Chair, American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Johns Hopkins Medicine Dean's Award in Surgical Research - Rothman Award

National Quality Forum "Top 40 Under 40" Leadership Award

National Institutes of Health/NIDDK National Research Service Award

OPTN/UNOS Minority Affairs Committee, Region 2 Representative (2017-2020)

The Transplantation Society Young Investigator Award 

Academy Health/Aetna Foundation Minority Scholar Award

American Society of Nephrology Travel Award

National Institutes of Health/National Medical Association Fellowship/Travel Award

International Symposium on Minority Health and Health Disparities Travel Award

National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, Volunteer Service Recognition

Johns Hopkins Medicine, Office of Community Health. “Ask the Expert” Community Health Outreach Series “Thank You” Award

  • Epidemiological studies to improve equity in access to kidney transplantation
  • Interventions to address disparities in CVD burden and major risk factors
  • Patient-centered care for adults with chronic kidney disease, hypertension, and diabetes
  • Community-based and stakeholder-engaged interventions

Selected publications with high impact

  • Purnell TS, Luo X, Cooper LA, Massie AB, Kucirka LM, Henderson, ML, Gordon EJ, Crews DC, Boulware LE, Segev DL. Association of Race and Ethnicity With Live Donor Kidney Transplantation in the United States From 1995 to 2014. JAMA. 2018;319(1):49-61. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.19152
  • Purnell TS, Calhoun EA, Golden SH, Halladay JR, Krok-Schoen JL, Appelhans BM, Cooper LA. Achieving Health Equity: Closing The Gaps In Health Care Disparities, Interventions, And Research. Health Aff (Millwood). 2016;35(8):1410-1415. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0158
  • Purnell TS, Simpson DC, Callender CO, Boulware LE. Dismantling Structural Racism as a Root Cause of Racial Disparities in COVID-19 and Transplantation. Am J Transplant. 2021 Feb 18. doi: 10.1111/ajt.16543.
  • Purnell TS, Luo X, Kucirka LM, Cooper LA, Crews DC, Massie AB, Boulware LE, Segev DL. Reduced Racial Disparity in Kidney Transplant Outcomes in the United States from 1990 to 2012. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2016;27(8):2511-2518. doi:10.1681/ASN.2015030293
  • Purnell TS, Hall YN, Boulware LE. Understanding and overcoming barriers to living kidney donation among racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2012;19(4):244-251. doi:10.1053/j.ackd.2012.01.008