Instructors: Professor Vittorio Addona and Professor Leslie Myint; Math, Statistics, and Computer Science

Course snapshot: Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease and health in human populations and the application of this understanding to the solution of public health problems. 

Why should I take this class? Because it will allow you to learn the foundations of quantitative public health, and practice and improve your quantitative thinking skills more generally. When well crafted, a quantitative argument is powerful, but we all constantly encounter a wide range of statements that warrant scrutiny and healthy skepticism. Upon completion of the course, you will better understand the importance of data, of ensuring its quality, and of examining the methods researchers use to analyze it.

Questions we wrestle with: What should researchers be measuring, and what do those measures tell us? What comparisons are appropriate, and how can we ensure that they are carried out ethically and without bias? How can we discern between a real phenomenon and mere random fluctuation? How can statistical ideas help us efficiently arrive at conclusions which can improve, lengthen, and save countless lives? 

Did you know: Epidemiology is a required course for the concentration in Community and Global Health. 

Fun fact: Sometimes correlation does imply causation, and it’s worth thinking about when that might be!

Virtual tools: One of the tools we use to help students engage in the practice of epidemiology is a massive virtual simulation of a population of human-like figures which can aptly be described as “The Sims—Epidemiology.” In this virtual environment, students can study different diseases that the human-like figures develop, they can chat with the simulated people, assign them to different treatment groups (e.g. a drug or placebo), and have them complete tasks (e.g. take a blood test, measure blood pressure, or complete a survey) in order to produce analyzable data.

Selected text: Essential Epidemiology: An Introduction for Students and Health

Professionals, 3rd ed., by Webb, Bain, & Page.

December 15 2020

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