Tanjala Purnell, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Headshot of Tanjala Purnell
  • Founder and Director, The B.O.L.D. (Building Opportunities for Lasting Discoveries) Health Equity Initiative
  • Joint Appointment in Surgery


Chronic Kidney Disease, Epidemiology, Health Services Research, Kidney Transplant ...read more


Tanjala Purnell PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular 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. Dr. Purnell is the Founding Director of the B.O.L.D. (Building Opportunities for Lasting Discoveries) Health Equity Initiative; Executive Director of Health Freedom: A Path to Wellness; and Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement with the Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation. 

Dr. Purnell is an epidemiologist and health services researcher with over a decade of expertise related to identifying and addressing patient/family, healthcare system, and community-level factors influencing health and healthcare disparities for adults with kidney disease, organ failure, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Her research has also helped to shed light on the dual impact of COVID-19 and systemic racism on 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, Health Affairs, American Journal of Transplantation, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, American Journal of Hypertension, and Diabetes Care. 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 serves as Chair of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; a member of the ASTS Boldly Against Racism Task Force; a member of the Board of Directors for the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP); and a member of the Governing Board of Trustees for the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. She previously served as the Region 2 Representative to the OPTN/UNOS Minority Affairs Committee. At Johns Hopkins, she has served in multiple educational leadership roles over the last 6 years, where she has facilitated research mentoring opportunities for over 150 scholars; organized novel seminars for over 7,000 academic and community members; and developed health equity research methods courses for over 4,000 learners at Johns Hopkins and other institutions worldwide. She is a three-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.

...read more


  • Founder and Director, The B.O.L.D. (Building Opportunities for Lasting Discoveries) Health Equity Initiative
  • Joint Appointment in Surgery

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D.; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Maryland) (2012)
  • M.P.H.; Ohio State University (Ohio) (2006)
  • B.S.; Tougaloo College (Mississippi) (2005)

Additional Training

  • Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 2014, General Internal Medicine

Research & Publications

Contact for Research Inquiries

The Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research
2024 East Monument Street
Baltimore, MD 21205 map

Email me

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Johns Hopkins DrPH concentration in Health, Equity, and Social Justice

Courses and Syllabi

  • Applications of Innovative Methods in Health Equity Research (410.635.81)
    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Local and Global Best Practices in Health Equity Research Methods (410.606.81)
    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Activities & Honors


  • Career Development (K01) Award, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Region 2 Representative, OPTN/UNOS Minority Affairs Committee
  • Rothman Award in Surgical Research, Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • National Research Service Award, National Institutes of Health/NIDDK
  • "Top 40 Under 40" Leadership Award, National Quality Forum
  • Young Investigator Award , The Transplantation Society
  • Seminar Travel Award, American Society of Nephrology Professional Development
  • Fellowship/Travel Award, National Institutes of Health/National Medical Association
  • Travel Award, International Symposium on Minority Health and Health Disparities
  • Volunteer Service Recognition, National Kidney Foundation of Maryland
  • “Ask the Expert” Community Health Outreach Series “Thank You” Award, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Office of Community Health

Videos & Media

  • Play Video:

    Best Practices for Engaging Policymakers to Promote Health Equity

  • Play Video:

    Your Role in Pursuing Health Equity

Patient Ratings & Comments

The Patient Rating score is an average of all responses to physician related questions on the national CG-CAHPS Medical Practice patient experience survey through Press Ganey. Responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score. Comments are also gathered from our CG-CAHPS Medical Practice Survey through Press Ganey and displayed in their entirety. Patients are de-identified for confidentiality and patient privacy.

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