Why Study Epidemiology?


  • Investigates the prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions, including through large-scale clinical trials
  • Studies the relationship of lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise to genetic susceptibility
  • Identifies risk factors for disease, better methods for diagnosis, and new therapies
  • Explores ways to reduce the risk of disease and lessen its burden for future generations in the United States and around the world

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, epidemiologists are...

  • Projected to experience faster than average employment growth (24%) over the period 2010–20
  • Projected to see 1,500 job openings over the period 2010–20, and many states have reported shortages of qualified workers for epidemiology positions

Reasons why epidemiology research is important:

  • Prevents diseases, parasites, and other public health problems from spreading or happening again by investigating their causes, risk factors, life cycles, modes of transmission, etc.
  • Plans, designs, and directs large-scale and long-term investigative studies of diseases, including treatment and preventative methods, and the health of populations
  • Collects and analyzes demographic and lifestyle data to determine what populations are at risk for particular chronic and infectious diseases
  • Monitors and reports incidents of infectious diseases to local, state, and national governmental health agencies
  • Aids in responses to bioterrorism threats, natural disasters, and other emergency situations, including foodborne parasitic diseases
  • educates policy makers, health workers, patients, and the public about infectious and communicable diseases, including transmission and prevention

Everyone benefits from research and interventions such as the following, in which the Department of Epidemiology is involved:

  • Discovering effective strategies for preventing heart disease, breast and colorectal cancers, and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women through the long-term national Women’s Health Initiative study
  • Identifying risk factors for fractures in minority women as well as those who can benefit from treatment through the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures, the largest, longest prospective study of osteoporosis ever conducted
  • Understanding traits that contribute to a long and healthy life through the Long-Life Family Study and using the information to develop interventions to delay or prevent the onset of age-related diseases and disabilities
  • Determining the best way to treat patients with both type 2 diabetes and heart disease through a landmark diabetes study, BARI 2D
  • Following women and children around the world to examine factors such as nutrition, environmental exposures, and intestinal infections that can impact health over a lifetime
  • Detailing the incidence of dementia among older individuals, including determinants of risk, measurement of brain abnormalities related to dementia, and lower extremity disability

Students in the Department of Epidemiology engage in...

  • High quality theoretical and applied course work
  • Cutting-edge research experiences
  • Individualized quality internships to allow application and translation of classroom learning
  • tTeaching practica
  • Multiple areas of emphasis with opportunities to explore an area in more depth

Learn more about our areas of emphasis.