Graduate Curriculum

Epidemiology Courses taught as part of the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences PhD program: 


Foundations of Epidemiology I (QBS 130/Biol 072)
Instructor: Drs. Diane Gilbert-Diamond (Summer) & Caitlin Howe (Fall)
This is the first of a two-course sequence of graduate-level epidemiology (Foundations of Epidemiology I and II). The two courses are designed to teach the underlying theory of epidemiologic study designs and analysis and prepare students for the conduct of epidemiology research. Design of investigations seeking to understand the cause of human disease, disease progression, treatment, and screening methods include clinical trials, cohort studies, case-cohort, case-case, nested case-control, and case-control designs. Concepts of incidence rates, attributable rate and relative rate, induction and latent periods of disease occurrence, confounding, effect modification, misclassification, and causal inference will be covered in depth.


Foundations of Epidemiology II (QBS 131/Biol 073)
Instructor: Dr. Megan Romano
This graduate-level course is the second in a two-part sequence. The two courses are designed to teach the underlying theory of epidemiologic study designs and analysis and prepare students for the conduct of epidemiologic research. Building off of concepts covered in Foundations of Epidemiology I, students develop an in-depth understanding of advanced concepts related to confounding, interpreting biomedical primary literature, and epidemiological study design. Concepts related to outbreak investigation, evaluation of screening tests, and assessment of the effects of policies on health are also covered.


Molecular Biologic Markers in Human Health Studies (QBS 132)

Instructor: Lucas Salas

Epidemiologists are moving quickly from a more traditional collection of subjects and observational data toward the incorporation of molecular markers of exposure, disease, and susceptibility. Technologies are rapidly changing, and the incorporation of molecular targets is an added layer of complexity to epidemiology study designs. In this course, students will be exposed to the general framework of what molecular epidemiology encompasses. Each week, the class will examine these challenges and the potential tools to address molecular epidemiology questions. The first half of the course will introduce the students to the historical background, basic definitions, and principles in molecular epidemiology designs, the use of biomarkers in a study, statistical and bioinformatic challenges in molecular epidemiology, practical aspects such as identifying susceptible populations, exposure assessment and dose-response, molecular classification of phenotypes, evaluating study compliance, monitoring, testing efficacy molecularly, and predicting prognosis. The second part of the class will be dedicated to applications in different fields (e.g., cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, etc.). The students will design a short, applied project section and briefly present, taking turns in each class (e.g., validation of a biomarker, biobanking of human biofluids, or tissue specimens). Students will be encouraged to choose a topic relevant to their research interests.


Applied Epidemiological Methods I (QBS 136)
Instructor: Dr. Anne Hoen
Computer laboratory-based course designed to provide hands-on experience performing epidemiological data analyses relevant to the theoretical/conceptual material presented in Foundations of Epidemiology I and II. Students will complete laboratory exercises using epidemiological study data sets that guide them through descriptive data analyses, modeling, and hypothesis testing within the context of a range of epidemiological study designs. Emphasis will be placed on learning to develop figures, tables, and text for scientific communication. Analyses will be performed in the open-access programming language R. Prerequisite: QBS 130, Basic proficiency in R.


Clinical Epidemiology (QBS 133)
Instructor: Dr. Michael Passarelli
Evidence-based medicine is the cornerstone of contemporary clinical practice. Clinical epidemiology aims to quantitatively evaluate medical interventions and technology and advance prediction and decision support tools to guide medical practice. The principles, tools and statistical approaches of clinical epidemiology are widely applicable in academic research, healthcare, and industry settings. In this course, students will learn to design and analyze both randomized and observational studies evaluating the efficacy of medical interventions, therapies, devices, screening programs and tests in order to understand therapeutic efficacy, therapeutic safety, and disease prognosis. Additional topics include the construction and validation of clinical risk prediction models (including discrimination, calibration, and reclassification), synthesis of quantitative data for medical decision making (such as meta-analysis), and cost-effectiveness analysis. The course draws on examples from pharmacoepidemiology, pharmacogenomics, real problems faced by medical professionals, and novel examples of clinical research.

Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Epidemiology I (QBS 130) or instructor permission


Epidemiology Seminar (QBS 270)
Instructor: Janet Peacock, PhD
Graduate-level journal club focused on interpreting scientific literature specific to epidemiological and biomedical research studies. Students will learn about the key aspects of a scientific study, how to critically evaluate epidemiological and biomedical research studies, and how to effectively communicate study findings to others. Prerequisites: None.


Epidemiology Seminar (QBS 271)
(Not offered every term)

Faculty and topics in this journal club change based on student interest and it is not offered every year. While format may change based on instructor, typically, in this advanced epidemiology journal club, students will select recent and high-impact peer-reviewed journal articles which will be discussed in class. These articles can include research studies or methodological papers. Each week, students will take turns presenting on an article and will be responsible for leading an in-class discussion for the selected paper. In addition to these presentations, students may be asked to submit a short, written commentary on each week’s featured article. Students will be encouraged to choose articles that are relevant to their research interests.

Prerequisites: Course prerequisites include QBS 130 and QBS 131. Equivalent courses may be accepted with instructor permission.


Quantitative Biomedical Sciences Journal Club (QBS 270)

All first-year QBS PhD students are required to enroll in the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences Journal Club except in the Summer quarter; however, it is encouraged that QBS PhD students attend this journal club in subsequent years. An essential element of scientific training is in the critical analysis and communication of experimental research in an oral format.

  • Fall: Epidemiology - Dr. Janet Peacock

This course emphasizes critical evaluation of epidemiological studies and the development of effective presentation skills. Students will gain exposure to a breadth of epidemiological methodologies while examining classical and current epidemiological studies within public health and biomedical research. Class will meet weekly. Each week, all students will read one peer-reviewed, published study and an additional article or other paper for supplemental reading.  One student will present on the published study, and we will all discuss the study and the relevance of the additional reading. Discussion will include an assessment of study components as related to study design, statistical analyses, inference and interpretation, bias, generalizability, and implications. Students will be asked to specifically discuss components of the study (e.g., to restate what one figure or table presents).

First-year doctoral students are required to present twice during the quarter.

  • Winter: Biostatistics - Dr. Jiang Gui

This course discusses new findings and applications in biostatistics and data science. The goal of the course is to develop critical thinking in biostatistical methodology. Starting the second week of the term, students will present two related papers emphasizing biostatistical methods, and the rest of the class will submit a short-written summary (1-2 pages) covering the paper’s motivation, approach, results, strengths, and weaknesses. During class, a student will give a 35-minute presentation on their papers followed by 10 minutes of class discussion. In addition to reading and summarizing their selected paper for the week, all students are expected to review the two presented papers prior to class in order to participate in the discussion.

  • Spring: Bioinformatics - Dr. Nicholas Jacobson

The critical analysis and communication of experimental research in both written and oral formats is an essential element of scientific training. Students in the spring QBS journal club will select nine recent digital medicine and biomedical informatics papers from a set of approved journals. Starting the second week of the term, students will read one of the selected papers per week and submit a short written summary (1-2 pages) that covers the paper’s motivation, approach, results, strengths, and weaknesses. During class, two students will each give a 45-minute presentation (40 min. of presentation with five min. for questions) on their papers (students will present twice during the term). In addition to reading and summarizing their selected paper for the week, all students are expected to review the two presented papers prior to class. Time permitting, additional topics for group discussion related to publishing your own research will include journal selection, impact factors, the peer review process, and authorship criteria.

For an overview of the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences program, please see our Course Catalog.