Genetic Epidemiology is the study of how genetic factors contribute to health and disease in families and populations, and how genes interplay with environmental factors.
In the “post-genomic era” where large amounts of genetic data are now readily available, it has become increasingly important to design studies and analytical techniques to accurately detect and describe the role genes play in human disease. Genes alone can cause some human diseases, and the public health impact of such Mendelian diseases must be considered. For many complex diseases, however, both genes and environmental factors contribute to risk.
Our track aims to integrate rigorous epidemiologic methods with genetic principles and techniques to identify how genes contribute to risk for disease. The genetic epidemiology faculty are actively engaged in a wide range of research projects, including research into neuropsychiatric disorders, birth defects, infectious diseases, cancer, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and aging, in addition to methodologic research to develop and assess statistical methods for genetic epidemiology. Current and former students have conducted their thesis research on many topics including genetic susceptibility to diabetes, AIDS, bipolar disorder, cognitive decline, breast cancer, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and asthma. Through collaborative research projects both within and outside the Department, students have the opportunity to develop their own ideas and implement the analytical methods introduced in the required courses.