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New epidemiology and clinical research coterminal program launches

The Division of Epidemiology has begun accepting applications for its new Epidemiology and Clinical Research coterminal program.

Stanford’s Division of Epidemiology has offered its Master’s program in Epidemiology and Clinical Research for decades. However, it was not until the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year that the department began plans for a general expansion of Stanford’s epidemiology program to include the coterminal degree. Students accepted into the coterm will be in the same classes as students admitted through the regular Master’s in Epidemiology and Clinical Research program.

Steven Goodman, chief of the division of epidemiology and associate dean of clinical and translational research, said this new coterm is “probably one of the few programs in the country where undergraduates can get graduate-level training in epidemiology and clinical research.”

The new coterm program aims to provide more quantitative and study design skills than a typical Master’s of Public Health (MPH) program. While most MPH degrees include epidemiology as only one track within the general MPH program, Stanford’s program in Epidemiology and Clinical Research emphasizes study design and data analysis for clinical and population-based research.

Julie Parsonnet, director of the new coterm program in epidemiology and clinical research and medical professor, also said that the “MPH has a broader domain, [with] more sociological classes and fewer methodological classes.”

According to Parsonnet, the core set of skills emphasized in the program will involve “how we interpret and understand the distribution and patterns of disease and health in human beings.

Students will “learn what is good science in human and population research, [in addition] to learning how this research is done and analyzed,” Parsonnet said.

The degree will include three primary components: core courses, electives and a thesis. The core course requirement consists of a two-class series in epidemiological methods and another three-class series in biostatistics. Students can either select electives from a wide variety of subject areas or focus on one topic by pursuing specialized tracks in global health, infectious disease, social causes of illness, clinical research or methodology. The program will also require three quarters of research seminars and a separate course on applications of SAS programming to epidemiological research.

Goodman said coterminal students would have the opportunity to pursue unique epidemiological research at the intersection of public health, disease treatment and disease prevention. Potential projects could include studying the effects of early childhood nutrition programs, examining the relationship between clean air, water and health in Bangladesh, investigating whether probiotic supplements affect recovery from gastrointestinal illnesses, researching the effectiveness of new cancer treatments, or applying “big data” techniques to study disease patterns in communities.

Moving forward, Goodman said the Division of Epidemiology is looking to promote greater exposure to epidemiology by providing an early entrée into this field.

“Many undergraduates are interested in careers that impact human health, but think the main choices are between medical school or the lab,” he said. “Epidemiology should be on their radar. Students often discover epidemiology only after they have been out for a while, but we want to give them the opportunity to explore it immediately.”

Applications for the degree opened March 1 of this year and are currently being accepted on a rolling basis. Current undergraduate seniors are also eligible but must apply before April 15, 2016.

 

Contact Katie Gu at katiegu ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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