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Research - Education - Advocacy

The faculty, staff and students who make-up the Department of Epidemiology are dedicated to research, education and advocacy. Through research and the education of future researchers we are battling the debilitating effects of chronic diseases while serving as advocates to promote good health in our society at-large. As epidemiologists, we study environmental and genetic factors affecting both health and disease within large human populations. Epidemiological research serves the discipline of medicine in helping to empiracally understand how many people have a disease or disorder, what may predispose one to a disease or disorder, if those numbers are changing and how the outcomes will affect our health as a society and economy.

A cornerstone methodology

Epidemiology is considered a cornerstone methodology of medicine and public health research. Epidemiologists are highly regarded in evidence-based medicine due to their ability to identify specific risk factors for particular disease and their scientific contributions in determining optimal treatment approaches in clinical practice. 

Collectively, we serve the interests of both the scientific and lay communities by offering scientific meetings, publishing scientific papers and advocating the importance of the practice of epidemiology via our public outreach.  Our faculty members are involved in a number of other scientific disciplines as well, including the life sciences (to better understand disease processes), biostatistics (to develop scientific study design, data collection approaches), the analysis tools and methodologies required for evidence-based research in the medical sciences (identifying risk factors for disease) and geographic information science (to store data and map disease patterns).

Expanding scope of research

Over the past fifty years, the research of our scientists has expanded the field in scope, when compared to classical epidemiology, to effectively quantify the susceptibility, causation and outcome of not only diseases in general, but many non-disease health-related conditions, such as high blood pressure and obesity.  Our studies are aimed, where possible, at revealing the unbiased relationships between human genetics and environmental exposures such as air pollution, biological agents, stress, and/or toxic chemicals. This identification of causal relationships between genetics, exposures and outcomes is the central mission of our research. 

Within the medical and public health sectors, epidemiologic evidence is commonly used to advocate for both better personal health measures (such as a diet change) and corporate measures (such as removal of junk food advertising).  Our research studies are disseminated via our submissions to peer-reviewed scientific journals and/or directly to the general public in order to help people make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle.  Our research findings have led to both better clinical care approaches and, most importantly, important steps towards the prevention of many major chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiopulmonary diseases.  In addition to our scholarly research, we have been trailblazers by serving as a hub for cancer surveillance here in Southern California and around the globe.