Tarlise (Tarlie) Townsend

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

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Opioid Epidemiology and Policy, led by Magdalena Cerdá and located in the NYU School of Medicine.


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 and ethnic disparities in health. In another line of work, I examine the implications of the overdose crisis for pain management in patients with cancer.

To do this work, I draw on perspectives and methods from health services research, epidemiology, and sociology. I have lead-authored articles in journals including The American Journal of Epidemiology, Health Affairs, The Journal of Clinical Oncology, and The International Journal of Drug Policy.

My research has been covered in TIME, the NIH Director’s Blog, Medscape, and other outlets.


I received a 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