Epidemiology is the science that enables us to identify the determinants of health and disease. In fact, the field of public health evolved in the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century from systematic efforts to record vital statistics and the work of health advocates such as Edwin Chadwick and Dr. John Snow. Since then, epidemiologic studies have provided the essential knowledge that propelled many improvements in sanitation and working conditions, and these, in turn, resulted in enormous improvements in both the quality of life and life expectancy, especially due to reductions in infectious disease.
More recently, epidemiologic research has turned its focus to chronic disease, such as heart disease. One of the most famous and influential of such studies, the Framingham Heart Study, was started in 1948 as a joint effort between Boston University and the National Heart Institute (now the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute). The Framingham Study, which has since enrolled second- and third- generation offspring from the original cohort, has produced a remarkable body of knowledge about the causes and prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke. As epidemiologic theory, methodology, and technology changes, we have been enabled to answer new public health questions and further unravel the links between exposures or risk factors and disease.
The Department of Epidemiology comprises faculty members who are experts in the areas of epidemiologic methods, chronic and infectious disease epidemiology, and pharmacoepidemiology. Drawing on their own expertise and professional experience, our faculty members provide students training in the principles and methodology of epidemiological research and practice. Students in the Department of Epidemiology are given the opportunity to explore the theories and methodologies underlying the science, and learn how to design, conduct, analyze, and interpret research studies in such areas as cancer epidemiology, reproductive epidemiology, and infectious disease epidemiology.