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Areas of Emphasis

Areas of Emphasis

Students take a series of core courses in epidemiology and public health, then may choose to enroll in courses in one or several Areas of Emphasis. Faculty in each of these areas have major research and/or community service programs that provide excellent facilities for student research and field training, and some have training grants. Summaries of each area, and their specific details, are provided below.

Faculty members in each of these areas offer major research and/or community service programs that provide excellent facilities for student research and field training.

Aging Epidemiology
Applied Public Health Epidemiology
Cancer Epidemiology
Cardiovascular and Diabetes Epidemiology
Clinical Trials and Methods
Environmental Epidemiology
Global Health Epidemiology
Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Injury Prevention Epidemiology
Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology
Population Neuroscience
Obesity and Nutritional Epidemiology
Prevention, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Epidemiology
Psychiatric Epidemiology
Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology
Women’s Health Epidemiology

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AgingAging Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Anne Newman

Areas of research broadly include successful aging and longevity, physical function, activity and disability, osteoporosis, vascular aging, sarcopenia, brain aging, and mobility.

Training grant: All trainees participate in a three course series on aging, hands-on research training, research conferences and seminar series. Additional career development opportunities for post-doctoral students are available.

All doctoral trainees design, implement, analyze data, and report the results of an independent study as part of the program with a goal of submitting three manuscripts for publication. Trainees are encouraged to present their research in a variety of venues, including Dean’s Day.

Faculty members primarily working in this area include Robert Boudreau, Jane Cauley, Nancy Glynn, Lewis Kuller, Iva Miljkovic, Anne Newman, Caterina Rosano, Andrea Rosso, Elsa Strotmeyer, Joseph Zmuda

Collaborating Faculty include Steve Albert, Howard AizensteinSteve Belle, Emma Barinas-Mitchell, Jen Brach, Maria BrooksClare Bunker, Lora Burke, Mary Ganguli, Tiffany Gary-Webb, Susan Greenspan, Joseph Hanlon, John Jakicic, Candy Kammerer, Oscar Lopez, Neelesh Nadkarni, Karen Matthews, Ryan Minster, Trevor Orchard, Sara Piva, Chip Reynolds, Akira Sekikawa, Jian-Min Yuan.

Applied Public HealthApplied Public Health Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Thomas Songer

Areas of focus include population health status assessment; infectious and chronic disease surveillance and control, maternal and child health epidemiology and environmental health epidemiology.

Opportunities include practicum experiences, independent study, and other applied projects. An enhanced practicum experience is the Summer Institute in Applied Public Health at the Allegheny Health Department.

Faculty members currently working in this area include LuAnn Brink, Marshal MaKristen Mertz, and Thomas Songer.

Cancer Cancer Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Jian-Min Yuan

An advanced course is offered in cancer epidemiology on topics of surveillance, etiology, and prevention.

Research focus areas include breast cancer and hormonal factors; environmental exposures determined by objective biomarkers and gene-environment interaction in the etiology of and susceptibility to cancer, including cancers of the lung, liver, colorectum, urinary bladder, breast, ovary and prostate; molecular epidemiology; cancer screening and related health services; diet as a source of risk and protective factors of cancer; obesity and weight loss for cancer prevention.

Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program seminar series at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, an National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Clareann Bunker, Jane Cauley, Lewis Kuller, Faina Linkov, Jian-Min Yuan.

Cardiovascular a& Diabetes Cardiovascular and Diabetes Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Akira Sekikawa

Areas of research broadly include cardiovascular aging and longevity; body composition and obesity; cardiovascular epidemiology; physical activity, and subclinical CVD; novel CVD risk factors, high risk and ethnic subpopulations; vascular health; hypertension; peripheral nerve function; lipid metabolism, and evaluation of cardiac interventions.

Diabetes areas of research include extensive programs in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. For type 1 diabetes, these include a 30 year follow up study of childhood onset diabetes, (Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study) and the national DCCT/EDIC study also with over 25 years follow up. For type 2 diabetes the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study and the translation of the interventions to the community form the basis of much activity including a Diabetes Prevention Support Center.

Training grant: Designed to provide concentrated, tailored training in the quality collection of subclinical atherosclerotic measures, organized around four major research strengths: vascular aging, women’s health, genetics and high risk/international populations. All trainees will participate in course work, research field work, and professional development (including CVD and diabetes journal clubs, independent research, grant writing, manuscript preparation and conference presentations).

Faculty members currently working in this area include Emma Barinas-Mitchell, Marnie Bertolet, Maria Mori Brooks, Clareann Bunker, Tina Costacou, Samar El KhoudaryLinda Fried, M. Kaye Kramer, Andrea Kriska, Allison KuipersLewis Kuller, Rachel Mackey, Oscar Marroquin, Karen MatthewsIva Miljkovic, Matthew Muldoon, Suresh Mulukutla, Anne Newman, Trevor Orchard, Akira SekikawaThomas Songer, Elsa Strotmeyer, Evelyn Talbott.

Clinical Trials & Methods Clinical Trials and Methods

Faculty contact: Steven Belle

The activities of the epidemiologic methods group contribute to all areas of emphasis, specializing in design and conduct of studies including adaptive trials, survey sampling, and statistical methods.

The didactic component includes three general methods courses and a design of clinical trials course. The journal club has covered topics including latent variable modeling in epidemiology and causal inference.

The Epidemiology Data Center (EDC) was established in 1980 as a section of the Department of Epidemiology, founded by Katherine M. Detre and under the co-direction of Steven Belle, Maria Brooks, and Stephen Wisniewski. The EDC has collaborated in over 100 research studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies. Presently, the EDC coordinates data management and analysis activities for 26 research projects sponsored by federal and various other governmental or private agencies and by industry. For more information, see the EDC Web site.

The EDC hosts the CTSI Design, Biostatistics, and Epidemiology (DBE) Core providing services to researchers at all stages of the research spectrum. Services include: grant application development and the pairing of researchers with statistical collaborators. It also hosts a journal club offering topics such as propensity scores and survey sampling.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Emma Barinas-Mitchell, GK BalasubramaniSteven Belle, Marnie Bertolet, Robert Boudreau, Maria Mori Brooks, Clareann Bunker, Yona Cloonan, Samar El Khoudary, Anthony Fabio, Sheryl Kelsey, Wendy King, Ashley NaimiRachel Mackey, Bedda Rosario, Kristine Ruppert,  Robert Schoen, Stephen Wisniewski.

Additional collaborators from the Department of Biostatistics include Jong Jeong and Abdus Wahed.

EnvironmentalEnvironmental Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Evelyn Talbott

Areas of research include air pollution and cardiovascular disease outcomes, cancer epidemiology, and cancer cluster investigation, ambient air lead and PM2.5 and health effects, childhood autism, and personal and environmental risk factors.

Graduate student research assistantships for CDC funded projects involving ambient air lead and childhood lead poisoning, childhood autism and the environment, PM2.5 air pollution, and cardiopulmonary outcomes.

All doctoral trainees conduct an independent study with the requirement to submit three manuscripts for publication. Hands on training in the area of environmental epidemiology with collaborations with over 23 state health departments through CDC environmental public health tracking programs.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Jennifer Adibi, Gary Marsh , Evelyn Talbott, and Ada Youk.

Additional collaborators from the Department of Biostatistics include Vincent Arena, and Jeanine Buchanich and from the Allegheny County Health Department: LuAnn Brink and Kristen Mertz.

Global Health Global Health Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Clareann Bunker

Areas of research Include maternal and child health (rural India); functional disability in aging (rural India); diabetes (Rwanda), hypertension, cardiovascular disease (rural India, Tobago); impaired kidney function (Tobago); infectious disease/HIV (Brazil, India, and Mozambique); bone health (Tobago); prostate cancer (Tobago, Nigeria); cancer (China); environmental health (China); application of the Internet and Mobile technology for global health and prevention. Infectious diseases/dengue modeling (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brazil, Columbia); atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, alzheimer’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Japan).

Development of the internet Supercourse with 50,000+ members from over 170 countries, teaching over 50,000,000.

Development of Project Tycho, a global health data repository released in November of 2013 providing open access to high resolution disease data for research, training, and public health public policy at www.tycho.pitt.edu.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Donald Burke, Clareann H. BunkerJane Cauley, Catherine Haggerty, Lee H. Harrison, M. Kaye KramerAndrea Kriska, Allison Kuipers, Ronald LaPorteFaina LinkovIva Miljkovic, Jean Nachega, Anne Newman, Trevor Orchard, Akira Sekikawa, Evelyn Talbott, Willem van Panhuis, Jian-Min Yuan, Joseph Zmuda.

Infectious Disease Infectious Disease Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Lee Harrison

Areas of research include epidemiology and molecular epidemiology of serious, vaccine-preventable, drug-resistant, and hospital-associated bacterial infections; prevention of HIV infection; infectious diseases surveillance; computational modeling of disease and intervention strategies; use of geotemporal analysis in infectious diseases.

Training grants: 1) Dengue and vaccine-preventable and drug-resistant bacterial infections in Brazil, and 2) prevention of HIV infection in Brazil, India, and Mozambique.

All doctoral trainees conduct an independent study with the requirement to submit three manuscripts for publication. Trainees can choose traditional epidemiology or molecular epidemiology as the basis of their doctoral research.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Steven Belle, Donald Burke, Catherine Haggerty, Lee Harrison, Lawrence Kingsley, Jean Nachega, Willem van Panhuis; and collaborating from the Allegheny Health Department, Kristen Mertz.

Injury Prevention Injury Prevention Epidemiology

Faculty contacts: Tom Songer, Anthony Fabio

Applied research in broad areas of unintentional and intentional injury including but not limited to injury from motor vehicle crash, falls, natural disasters, poisoning, head trauma, criminal violence, child maltreatment, domestic violence, and treatment of injury.

Emphasis on the application of epidemiologic methods in population and clinical settings to understand key risk and prognostic factors for primary and secondary prevention of injury.

Trainees participate in academic training in injury epidemiology and/or injury prevention and control and applied research training on specific injury and violence topics using mentors from multiple disciplines in the fields of epidemiology, statistics, trauma, behavioral sciences, surgery, psychiatry, criminology, and others.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Steven Albert, Anthony Fabio, Thomas J. SongerEvelyn TalbottStephen Wisniewski, Mazen Zenati.

Molecular & Genetic Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology

Faculty Contact: Joseph Zmuda

Areas of current research broadly include aging, cancer, reproduction and early development, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, sarcopenia, and osteoporosis.

Requirements vary depending on student background and needs, and are offered in collaboration with the departments of environmental and occupational health and human genetics in the Graduate School of Public Health.

Didactic and laboratory courses are offered.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Jennifer Adibi, Clareann H. BunkerAllison KuipersIva Miljkovic, Anne NewmanJian-Min YuanJoseph Zmuda.

Collaborators from other departments include Robert FerrellCandace KammererIlyas Kamboh, Ryan MinsterDan Weeks, Brenda Diergaarde.

Neuroepidemiology Population Neuroscience

Faculty contact: Caterina Rosano

Focuses on the application of epidemiology methods and cutting-edge neuroimaging methodologies in population and clinical studies to enhance etiological research and evaluation of specific therapies in the disorders of the central nervous system.

Targets the interdependent nature of clinical characterization, epidemiological methods, and multimodal assessment of disorders of the central nervous system through rigorous academic training and applied research opportunities.

Maximizes the potential for applied research training and for successful field placements of the trainees through multidisciplinary mentored work with leaders in the fields of epidemiology, psychiatry, neuroscience, neurology, and others.

Read more about the new Population Neuroscience T-32 training program here.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Jane Cauley,  Mary Ganguli, Lewis Kuller, Karen Matthews, Trevor OrchardGale RichardsonCaterina Rosano, Bedda Rosario, Andrea Rosso, Evelyn Talbott.

Collaborators from other departments include Howard Aizenstein (psychiatry), James Becker (psychiatry), Kirk Erickson (psychology), Peter Gianaros (psychiatry), Samay Jain (neurology) Oscar Lopez (neurology), Amy Wagner (psychology).

Obesity & Nutritional Obesity and Nutritional Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Lisa Bodnar

Areas of research include nutritional epidemiology, obesity epidemiology, body composition, bariatric surgery, dietary intake, and supplement use.

Relevant courses include nutritional epidemiology, nutrition assessment laboratory.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Lisa Bodnar, Lora Burke,  Samar El Khoudary, Wendy King, M. Kaye  Kramer, Andrea Kriska, Iva Miljkovic, Akira Sekikawa, Lauren Simkin-Silverman.

Prevention, Lifestyle, & Physical Activity Prevention, Lifestyle, and Physical Activity Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Andrea Kriska

This program involves translating the proven benefits of lifestyle intervention on a broad range of health outcomes including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. This program encompasses the conceptual and practical foundation needed for such public health translation initiatives. Learning objectives include a thorough understanding of disease prevention, behavioral intervention theory and lifestyle intervention training, along with a critical understanding of the methodological issues in designing and evaluating these efforts. Course work includes formal training and a practicum in which students gain community-based experience administering the lifestyle intervention, which is comprised of weight loss, increased physical activity, and healthy eating.

An integral part of this AOE in the Department of Epidemiology is the Diabetes Prevention Support Center (DPSC). The DPSC is comprised of epidemiology faculty who were originally part of the Diabetes Prevention Program, the national multi-center clinical trial that demonstrated the benefits of lifestyle intervention in preventing a chronic disease. The DPSC serves as the central training center for lifestyle intervention delivery as well as provision of subsequent post-training support.

The Department of Epidemiology is also the home of the Physical Activity Resource Center for Public Health (PARC-PH) which was developed to provide the physical activity assessment information and lifestyle intervention tools necessary to carry out prevention/translation efforts.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Lisa Bodnar, Joyce Bromberger, Lora Burke, Margaret Conroy, Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, Nancy Glynn, Wendy King, M. Kaye Kramer, Andrea Kriska, Lewis Kuller, Faina Linkov, Karen Matthews, Kathleen McTigue, Trevor Orchard, Lauren Simkin-SilvermanElizabeth VendittiTiffany Gary-Webb.

Psychiatric Psychiatric Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Gale Richardson

The Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program focuses on the acquisition of epidemiological, biostatistical, and psychiatric concepts and methods, and on their application to research in the field of psychiatric disorders.

Training is accomplished through course work in epidemiology and biostatistics, and through courses in psychiatric epidemiology that were designed specifically for the PET Program.

The training experience includes the opportunity to work on research projects with faculty mentors who are active researchers in psychiatry and epidemiology within Pitt Public Health and the Department of Psychiatry within the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Faculty members currently working in this area include David Brent, Joyce Bromberger, Tammy Chung, Marie Cornelius, Nancy Day, Mary Amanda Dew, John Donovan, Mary Ganguli, Karen Matthews, Margaret McDonald, Kenneth Perkins, Gale Richardson, Stephen Wisniewski.

ReproductivePerinatalPediatric Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Catherine Haggerty

Areas of research broadly include causes of pregnancy complications and adverse outcomes including spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, and preeclampsia; obesity and nutrition among pregnant women; fertility and contraception; breastfeeding; and sexually transmitted infections. A major clinical site for collaboration is Magee-Womens Hospital, the obstetrics, gynecologic, and reproductive sciences specialty hospital associated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Global health research experiences are available through a study of pregnancy being conducted in India.

Training program provides concentrated, tailored training on the patterns, risk factors, and interventions that might improve reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric health, as well as women’s health across the lifespan. All trainees will participate in coursework, research field work, and professional development including courses in reproductive epidemiology, epidemiology of women’s health, and pediatric epidemiology; the Reproductive, Perinatal and Pediatric Epidemiology Journal Club; the Maternal and Child Health Journal Club; independent research; grant writing; manuscript preparation; and scientific conference presentations.

Trainees who engage in community service activities in addition to completing the didactic requirements will be eligible for a women’s health specialization, which honors trainees’ combined interests in women’s health research and community outreach.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Jennifer Adibi, Emma Barinas-Mitchell, Lisa Bodnar, Joyce Bromberger, Clareann H. Bunker, Janet Catov, Jane Cauley, Yona Cloonan, Marie Cornelius, Nancy Day, Samar El Khoudary, Catherine Haggerty, Sheryl Kelsey, Andrea Kriska, Lewis Kuller, Rachel Mackey, Dara Mendez, Evelyn Talbott, Nina Markovic, Karen Matthews, Gale Richardson, James Roberts, Rebecca Thurston.

Women's Health Women’s Health Epidemiology

Faculty contact: Jane Cauley

Areas of research broadly include women’s health across the lifespan, menopause and late life. Menopause and aging focuses on furthering our understanding of chronological aging versus ovarian aging. Emphasis is placed on a broad range of topic areas including the skeleton, cardiovascular disease, mental health, physical function and disability, body composition, and lifestyle.

Faculty members currently working in this area include Emma Barinas-Mitchell, Lisa Bodnar, Joyce Bromberger, Maria Mori Brooks, Clareann Bunker, Janet Catov, Jane Cauley, Marie Cornelius, Nancy Day, Natacha DeGennaSamar El Khoudary, Catherine Haggerty, Sheryl Kelsey, Andrea Kriska, Lewis Kuller, Rachel Mackey, Nina Markovic, Karen Matthews, Dara Mendez, Gale Richardson, Akira Sekikawa, Evelyn Talbott,, Rebecca Thurston.

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