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Associate Professor

Tanjala S. Purnell, PhD '12, MPH, uses epidemiology and health services research to advance equity in transplantation and related conditions, including kidney diseases, hypertension, and diabetes.

Contact Info

2024 East Monument Street, Suite 2-600

Research Interests

Epidemiological studies to improve equity in access to kidney transplantation; Interventions to address disparities in cardiometabolic diseases; Patient-centered care for adults with chronic kidney disease, hypertension, and diabetes; Community-based and stakeholder-engaged interventions; Social epidemiology
Experiences & Accomplishments
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
The Ohio State University
Tougaloo College
Tanjala Purnell PhD, MPH, FASN is an Associate Professor of Cardiovascular and Clinical Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She holds joint appointments in the Johns Hopkins Departments of Surgery, Health Policy and Management, and Health Behavior and Society. Dr. Purnell is the Founding Director of the B.O.L.D. (Building Opportunities for Lasting Discoveries) Health Equity Initiative and Executive Director of Health Freedom: A Path to Wellness. She serves as Co-Lead of the Hopkins/ Northeast Hub for the AIM-AHEAD Consortium, a national initiative to improve diversity and equity in artificial intelligence and machine learning, funded by a $50 million NIH award. Dr. Purnell is an epidemiologist and health services researcher with over a decade of expertise related to identifying and addressing patient, family, healthcare system, policy, and community factors influencing disparities in transplantation/organ donation, and related conditions, including chronic kidney diseases, hypertension, and diabetes. Her research has also helped to shed light on the dual impact of COVID-19 and systemic racism on healthcare disparities in the US. She has received several national and international research honors and has published findings from her work in leading journals, including JAMA and Health Affairs. In 2021, she was featured as an international thought leader in transplantation and donation disparities as part of the Masterclass Series sponsored by The Transplantation Society.

Nationally, Dr. Purnell has served as Chair of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and a member of the ASTS Boldly Against Racism Task Force. She currently serves as Education Co-Lead of the American Society of Nephrology Healthcare Justice Committee; a member of the Board of Directors for the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program; a member of the Governing Board of Trustees for the Infinite Legacy Foundation; and a member of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Transplant Advisory Committee. She was the 2023 recipient of the NKF Excellence in Transplantation Award and was the inaugural recipient of the ASTS Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award in 2022. At Johns Hopkins, she has served in multiple health equity leadership roles, where she has facilitated research mentoring opportunities for over 150 public health and clinical scholars; organized novel seminars for over 6,000 academic and community members; and developed health equity research methods courses for over 7,000 learners at Johns Hopkins and other institutions worldwide. She is a four-time recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Purnell is a native of the Mississippi Delta and a proud alumna of Tougaloo College where she obtained her B.S. in Computer Science and was a Jackson Heart Study Scholar.
Honors & Awards
National Kidney Foundation Excellence in Transplantation Award (2023)
American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) Inaugural Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award (2022)
Fellow, American Society of Nephrology (FASN)
Dr. W.H. Linda Kao Scholar Award (2021)
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Teaching Excellence Award (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021)
National Kidney Foundation Transplant Advisory Committee Member
American Society of Nephrology Healthcare Justice Committee Member
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Career Development Award
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
ASTS Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee Chair (2020-2022)
OPTN/UNOS Minority Affairs Committee, Region 2 Representative (2017-2020)
The Transplantation Society Young Investigator Award 
Academy Health/Aetna Foundation Minority Scholar 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
Select Publications
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, 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, 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, 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, Bignall ONR II,, Norris KC; American Society of Nephrology Health Care Justice Committee Education Work Group. Centering Anti-Racism and Social Justice in Nephrology Education to Advance Kidney Health Equity. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2022 Nov;33(11):1981-1984. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2022040432. Epub 2022 Sep 9. PMID: 36316090; PMCID: PMC9678029.