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’m a population health scientist who studies 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