Dr. Jason Purnell is trained in both applied psychology and public health. After undergraduate study in government and philosophy at Harvard University, he received his doctoral degree in counseling psychology from Ohio State University and his Master of Public Health degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry. Dr. Purnell completed an NCI-funded fellowship in cancer prevention and control and was a research assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Rochester before joining the Brown School. He is also a licensed psychologist in the states of Missouri and New York and a former director of community engagement with the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
Dr. Purnell’s research focuses on how socioeconomic and sociocultural factors influence cancer prevention and other health behaviors and whether combining asset accumulation with preventive health interventions (e.g., smoking cessation) increases preventive health behaviors in low-income populations. He leads the Working Group on Asset Building/Financial Capability and Health, a transdisciplinary, academic-community collaboration established to explore financial intervention as a means of addressing health disparities.
Dr. Purnell is very active in the St. Louis community, both personally and professionally, including service on the boards of Beyond Housing, Inc., Loyola Academy of St. Louis, the Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition as well as the United Way of Greater St. Louis Men’s Leadership Society Cabinet, and the Program and Education Committee of the American Youth Foundation. Dr. Purnell received the Young Leader Award from the St. Louis American Foundation in 2013 and the Young Professionals Awards in Health and Quality of Life Empowerment from the Urban League Young Professionals of Metropolitan St. Louis in 2014. He is currently leading a Missouri Foundation for Health-funded project called For the Sake of All. A final report was released at a conference on May 30, 2014. The project, now in its second phase, is focused on community engagement and implementation of recommendations.
Collaborating with experts in psychology, public health, oncology, and primary care, Dr. Purnell’s previous research has also included investigations of community-based cancer prevention and control interventions as well as response to treatment, psychosocial functioning, and psychological intervention in cancer patients and survivors.
He continues his transdisciplinary work as a faculty member in the Brown School and a faculty scholar in the Institute for Public Health. Dr. Purnell joined the Brown School research faculty in 2009 and was appointed an assistant professor in 2011.