Disease Detectives: An Introduction to Epidemiology

Department: Epidemiology

Instructor: Erin Delker
Instructor's Email: erindelker@gmail.com
Prerequisites: None

Course Description

What is epidemiology? Why does it matter? This course provides students with an exciting introduction to epidemiology. The course begins with a review of the history of epidemiology and key concepts in population health. Then, students will learn how to conduct epidemiologic research (identify health problems, develop hypotheses, design studies, analyze data, draw conclusions and present findings). Lastly, students explore real life applications of epidemiology and the diverse set of career paths that are available to epidemiologists. The course will engage students in collaborative learning through group discussion, case studies, in-class activities, a team project and a field trip to the San Diego County Department of Public Health.

Course Goals / Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, students will be able to define epidemiology and describe its applications. Further, students will be able to describe public health problems, apply epidemiologic methods, draw inferences from epidemiologic data and communicate information to lay and professional audiences.

Content and Evaluation

The content for this course emphasizes active learning through participation in class discussion and group activities. Students are expected to attend all classes and actively participate in discussions. Some class activities may require at-home preparation (i.e. reading a case study for in-class debate). Additionally, students are expected to collaborate in small groups to propose, carry out, and present an epidemiologic investigation of a disease of their choice.

Topical Outline

Below is a tentative outline of topics that we will cover:

  1. Origins of Epidemiology
    • Key epidemiologists
    • Major milestones
    • Epidemics, public health campaigns
  2. Foundations/Concepts
    • Natural History of Disease
    • Dynamics of Disease transmission, epidemiologic triad
    • Prevention
  3. Scientific Method
    • Population Health - Identifying populations of interest
    • Study Design
    • Measures in Epidemiology
    • Analyzing Data and Drawing Conclusions
    • Visualization and Communication of Results
  4. Applications
    • Field Trip: San Diego County Health Department
    • Careers in epidemiology

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