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avatar for Jason Purnell

Jason Purnell

Washington University
Associate Professor
About Jason Purnell
Jason Purnell is an assistant professor in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He is trained in both applied psychology and public health. Dr. Purnell leads the For the Sake of All project, a multidisciplinary civic education and mobilization initiative highlighting the regional significance of disparities in health and life outcomes for African Americans in St. Louis, MO. The project and a report by the same name released in May 2014 have been a critical resource in the wake of the unrest that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in the suburban St. Louis city of Ferguson in August of that year. Several of the report’s recommendations are included among the signature calls to action of the Ferguson Commission appointed by the Missouri’s governor. Purnell and his team and partners have been instrumental in convening cross-sector stakeholders for strategic response to disparities in health, education, and economic status.
Dr. Purnell’s research focuses on health equity and the social determinants of health, with a special emphasis on the social, cultural, and economic factors that influence health behaviors and health outcomes. He is also interested in how communities can be mobilized to respond to health inequity. His work has been published in leading scientific journals such as JAMA, American Journal of Public Health, Annual Review of Public Health, and Journal of Clinical Oncology. Significant interest in For the Sake of All has led to coverage by NPR, the Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, Mclean’s (Canada), Korea Times (Korea), the “Joe Madison Show” on SiriusXM Radio, vox.com, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Dr. Purnell graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, with a bachelor’s degree in Government and Philosophy. His doctoral degree in counseling psychology is from The Ohio State University, and his masters in public health is from the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry. Dr. Purnell is also a licensed psychologist in the State of Missouri.