Tarlise (Tarlie) Townsend

Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for Opioid Epidemiology & Policy
Dept. of Population Health
NYU School of Medicine


Hi! I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Opioid Epidemiology and Policy, led by Magdalena Cerdá and located in NYU’s Department of Population Health. I also receive NIDA T32 funding and training from the Behavioral Sciences Training Program in NYU’s College of Nursing.


I use epidemiology and health services research to study pain, disability, and opioid use in the United States. I’m particularly interested in the intended and unintended consequences of policies aiming to address opioid-related harms, as well as their implications for racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in health. My research also works to explain demographic trends in disability and the pathways underlying educational disparities in disability incidence. In a new line of research, I’m examining the use of opioids to manage cancer-related pain. To do this work, I draw on perspectives and methods from health services research, epidemiology, and sociology.


I received my joint PhD in Health Services Organization & Policy and Sociology from the University of Michigan in May 2020. I was an NIA-funded predoctoral trainee at Michigan’s Population Studies Center in the Institute for Social Research.

Prior to graduate school, I studied the cognitive and social dimensions of climate change, first as a DAAD Scholar at Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and then as a Henry Luce Scholar at Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Email: tarlise.townsend@nyulangone.org
Twitter: @TarlieTownsend