Infectious diseases continue to have a substantial impact on the health of communities around the world. From the global HIV and tuberculosis (TB) epidemics, to the threat of resistant bacteria, to the challenge of emerging and newly identified pathogens. All compel the need for new methods to detect such pathogens, to understand their pathogenesis, and to devise effective interventions for their prevention and control.
Emerging molecular methods are critical for future efforts. Traditional case control and cohort studies will be necessary to define the role of such pathogens in disease causality. In addition, a deepening of the understanding of the complexity of factors that determine risk and susceptibility to various infectious diseases is necessary for the design of appropriate interventions. Moreover, exciting opportunities exist at the interface of communicable and non-communicable diseases, offering new and expanding research agendas.
The infectious disease epidemiology unit encompasses domestic and global work on the epidemiology of emerging and re-emerging infections, global infectious disease threats, disease surveillance, disease detection, development of vaccines and other prevention methods, clinical trials, and the role of infectious pathogens in the pathogenesis of chronic non-communicable diseases (such as cancer and cardiovascular disease). The focus is broad, ranging from the search for novel pathogens using advanced molecular techniques to longitudinal population based studies to define transmission dynamics and spectrum of disease and survival. Approaches are employed in an interdisciplinary fashion to define etiology, pathogenesis, transmission, and prevention/treatment potentials. The infectious disease epidemiology unit is home to the faculty of several centers and includes several large-scale projects. Affiliated faculty members play a substantial role in the intellectual life of the unit, conducting collaborative research, organizing interdisciplinary seminars, and providing mentorship to students and junior faculty.
The unit holds a monthly seminar, sponsors a highly popular certificate in infectious disease epidemiology, and teaches several courses open to the department.
PREDICT, a large program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Emerging Pandemic Threats Program, is developing a global warning system for newly emerging diseases and to anticipate and assess emerging infectious diseases that move between animals and people in order to prevent the next global pandemic.
PHARM-Link Studies, which are funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, include large-scale pharmacy-based interventions aimed at connecting drug users and other high risk populations to medical care and social services, using pharmacies as an HIV-testing venue, and most recently, using pharmacies to help drug users gain access to antiretroviral therapy to help prevent HIV acquisition using a pharmacist-clinician partnership. These studies use a community-based participatory research model and target the individual, social, and structural environment.
Affiliated Centers and Programs
Unit leader: Wafaa El-Sadr
For more information about the infectious disease epidemiology unit contact infectious-disease.epidemiology [at] columbia.edu