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East Baltimore
2nd Term
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Academic Year
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method
Class Time(s)
Thursday, 5:00 - 6:00pm
Auditors Allowed
Available to Undergraduate
Grading Restriction
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor(s)
Contact Name
Gundula Bosch
Contact Email
Frequency Schedule
Every Year


Are you interested in fundamental ideas about cause and effect relationships, and how they govern biomedical and public health researchers' work? Understanding causal relationships is essential to our abilities to explain why things happen, predict what will happen, and design interventions. We will discuss different theories of causation, and analyze how different fields in science and health establish causality. In this course, faculty from each JHSPH Department will lead a discussion of how causal relationships are understood within their field, and what approaches allow us to gain causal insight on that topic by observing phenomena ranging in scale from the molecular to the global.
Acquaints students with the central concept of causation across the biomedical and public health disciplines. Discusses how cause and effect relationships govern today's research and evidence-based decision-making based on the social, physical, political, and economic determinants of health. Compares how fields and sub-disciplines in biomedicine and public health approach causation using research case examples that illustrate major morbidity and mortality-related health problems. Examines strategies to mitigate the limitations of causal inference.
Learning Objectives
Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain how causality is currently - and has historically been - established across the public health and biomedical research fields
  2. List three key concepts about causation: The Regularity Theory of Causation, The Counterfactual Theory of Causation, and the idea of necessary connection
  3. Describe the social, physical, economic, and political determinants of health and methods to investigate their causal relationship to health outcomes
  4. Illustrate how causal research concerning the social, physical, economic, and political determinants of health contributes to our current body of evidence about population health and health inequities
  5. Appraise how limitations of causal inference can be mitigated in public health and biomedical research and practice
Methods of Assessment
This course is evaluated as follows:
  • 30% Case study work
  • 40% Final Project
  • 30% Course and discussion participation
Special Comments

This is the onsite version of a course also held virtual/online. You are responsible for the modality in which you register. This course is part of the JHSPH R3 Program series (, and represents a collaborative effort of all 10 Departments at the School.