Epidemiology of Chronic Disease

Chronic diseases account for 6 of the top 7 causes of death in the United States according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From cardiovascular disease to diabetes to cancer and pulmonary disease, chronic diseases claim far more lives than such infectious diseases as pneumonia and influenza. And as the population ages, the burden of these diseases is only likely to increase. The same is true overseas and, increasingly, in developing countries.

These trends have spurred myriad efforts at international, national, state, and local levels and in academia and industry – all of which call for interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners with the ability to identify risk factors, understand the social context, and develop prevention strategies for the most significant chronic diseases.

The Certificate in the Epidemiology of Chronic Disease provides students with a deep grounding in epidemiologic methodologies to better understand these complex diseases. Students will also have access to the vast network of Mailman School faculty working at the forefront of chronic disease prevention and treatment in areas such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Admissions Eligibility

Epidemiology of Chronic Disease is open to Columbia MPH students in:

The Competencies for this Certificate are as follows:

  1. Describe the historical epidemiological transition and its impact on chronic disease across resource-poor and developed regions of the globe. 
  2. Define, calculate, and interpret fundamental epidemiological measures of different chronic diseases including incidence, mortality, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) across resource-poor and developed regions of the globe. 
  3. Identify authoritative sources of information about chronic disease rates and understand factors that affect their accuracy and precision. 
  4. Enumerate environmental and lifestyle factors that affect development of multiple chronic diseases. 
  5. Critique published chronic disease research studies, focusing on strengths and weaknesses of study design, analytic methods, bias and confounding, and interpretation of findings.

Learn More

Visit the Certificates Database to learn more about core and credit requirements.

Sample Courses

Cancer Epidemiology

Methods used in cancer epidemiology are critically examined through weekly assigned readings, lectures and class discussion. Topics covered in this course include molecular and cellular biology of cancer, basic mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and the roles of chemical, viral, hormonal, genetic and nutritional factors in human cancer. The natural history of cancer analysis of time trends in cancer incidence, mortality, survival and geographic distribution are also examined. Screening and treatment issues will be discussed.

Genetics in Epidemiology

Modern research in epidemiology must take into account both biological and social effects on disease susceptibility, and the genetic influences on disease risk are of paramount importance in understanding the biological influences. This course will cover methodologic and substantive aspects of genetics in epidemiology, including an introduction to the biological basis of human heredity, complexities in the genetic influences on human disease, and study designs used to disentangle genetic and nongenetic contributions to disease etiology. Topics include methods for collection of valid family history data, familial aggregation studies, gene-environmental interaction, twin studies, linkage analysis, and allelic association studies.

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