News Health Equity

Institute awards seed funding to Jason Q. Purnell

In the latest of several recent honors for Jason Q. Purnell, PhD, MPH, the Institute for Public Health has awarded him $20,000 from the MTM, Inc., Community Health Access Fund for a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project addressing health disparities in north St. Louis.

“The CBPR approach ensures that community members are involved throughout all phases of the project from identifying health concerns within the community to designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions that will improve health outcomes,” explained Purnell in his application.

The main community partner for this project will be the Grace Hill Settlement House, a local social service provider that connects individuals to early childhood education, community building services, business development, job training, financial services, and healthcare through community-based “hubs.” Their flagship Water Tower Hub campus will host informational settings for residents of the high need neighborhoods of College Hill, Hyde Park, and Old North (directly north of downtown) to learn about health disparities in their communities and begin the process of determining which health issues and social factors are most urgent to address.

“We view this as an ideal opportunity to increase grassroots engagement with the project and build the capacity of neighborhoods and community-based organizations to respond to health-related needs using data-driven, evidence-based approaches,” said Purnell. “Although it is difficult to predict which interventions the community will identify as a priority, our process will emphasize the social determinants of health and work with residents to develop systemic interventions that will have a lasting effect on health within the community.”

Purnell is currently the principal investigator and project director of For the Sake of All, and an assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University. In the last month, he accepted the Walentik Leadership in Health Award from Missouri Foundation for Health and was named ‘Person of the Year’ by the St. Louis American newspaper. The Institute is pleased to be able to partner with him on his latest endeavor.