Jonathan Q. Purnell, MD

Associate Professor, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Clinical Nutrition,

Oregon Health & Science University

Jonathan Purnell was born and raised in Oregon. He attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, and graduated medical school from Oregon Health & Science University in 1986. He then traveled east to complete his Internal Medicine residency and Chief Residency at the University of Vermont before returning to the west coast for his Endocrine fellowship at the University of Washington, where he stayed on as faculty. In 2000, he moved to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) as an Assistant Professor. He currently lives in Portland, OR with his wife and two children (ages 15, 16).

He became a Scientist in the Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders, and Associate Professor of Medicine (Divisions of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Clinical Nutrition; and Cardiovascular Medicine) in the School of Medicine at OHSU. He is the Director of the Bionutrition Unit of the OCTRI Clinical and Translational Research Center, a unit that provides both intensive services from research dieticians and kitchen technicians as well as precise measures of body composition and energy expenditure to clinical researchers. Dr. Purnell serves on the editorial board for Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, is a reviewer for numerous other scientific journals, is the past-President of the American Federation of Medical Research, and a Reviewer for NIH Study Section on Clinical and Integrative Diabetes and Obesity (CIDO). He is the leader of the Nutrition Section for the second year pathophysiology course for the second year medical students and the first recipient of the Huldrick Kammer Clinical Achievement Award. He is also an advisor for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in developing educational programs in obesity and nutrition for children, and served on the most recent nutritional task force that drafted the scientific rationale for nutritional therapy of diabetes published by the American Diabetes Association.

As a clinical researcher, Purnell specializes in the mechanisms leading to obesity and central fat distribution, diabetes, lipid abnormalities in humans. He has been PI on NIH grants examining the role of cortisol production and metabolism on distribution of body fat, expression of insulin resistance, and levels of lipids in the blood. These studies have also included the role of sex steroids in the regulation of cortisol production rates, specifically the menopausal transition and hormonal replacement in women and in experimentally induced hypogonadism in men. He has also studied the role of diet and hormonal regulation of both the levels and structure of the orexigenic gut-hormone, ghrelin. He is the PI of the NIH/NIDDK multi-center study (including the University of Washington and Pittsburgh) of the mechanisms of improvement in diabetes following gastric bypass operations, known as the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS) 3 Diabetes Substudy. Finally, Dr. Purnell is interested in applying imaging technologies that will improve our understanding of the fatty acid oxidation defects that lead to insulin resistance (magnetic resonance spectroscopy, MRS) and central nervous system responses to alterations in diet macronutrient content and levels of adipocytokines and gut hormones that control food intake and energy expenditure in humans (functional MRI, fMRI).

In the policy arena, Dr. Purnell served on the Governor’s Task Force for a Comprehensive Obesity Prevention Initiative from 2008-2009. This committee established recommendations for legislative priorities for nutrition and obesity prevention for the state of Oregon, which were published in 2009 (