Despina Karalis D ’18, Guarini ’19 is the first “4+1 student” to receive a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (QBS) program.
The 4+1 option, available to Dartmouth undergraduates, allows students to enroll in a maximum of three graduate level courses that count toward either the QBS Masters in Epidemiology or Health Data Science—to be completed in one year following their graduation from Dartmouth College.
“I never could have imagined that getting a master’s degree was a possibility for me. I moved to the US from Greece 12 years ago, and I come from a low-income family—I’m the first to go to college,” says Karalis. “Eventually, I’d like to go to medical school then conduct research in women’s sexual and reproductive health—it is important to me to be able to create statistical models and do my own analysis. There’s a gap between research findings and how they make their way down to the patient level and I want to be able to translate that to my patients.”
For now, Karalis is working as a research assistant with Margaret Karagas, PhD, the James W. Squires Professor and chair of the epidemiology department, director of Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center and the Center for Molecular Epidemiology at Dartmouth, and her team. “We are working on preparing the next New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study (NHBCS) rollout in partnership with ECHO (environmental influences on child health outcomes)—a national birth cohort collaboration,” Karalis says. “I am working on data harmonization between the old cohort data, new data that will be collected, and the surveys.”
“Depy’s accomplishments as a QBS Master’s student are simply incredible—with an outstanding background as a Dartmouth undergrad, she certainly didn’t shy away from challenging classes, quickly grasped the program’s multi-disciplinary material, and integrated it into her capstone,” Karagas says. “Her research forges the novel area of early childhood food allergies, and the impact of prenatal exposures such as maternal diet. She’s truly been a pleasure to have in the lab and contributed invaluably to our team.”
The QBS master’s program focuses on providing students with an in depth understanding of biostatistics and data analysis unavailable in most epidemiology programs, providing training in epidemiologic methods, biostatistics, bioinformatics, data analysis and translational research to understand population trends, how societal factors create epigenetic changes and contribute to overall health, and how to extrapolate data from scientific studies to different populations.