Preparing the frontlines: UC Berkeley launches online concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics for public health workers

Since the onset of COVID-19, UC Berkeley School of Public Health has provided local, national and global leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic through scientific research, consulting policymakers, communication with the public and mobilizing our community to serve vulnerable populations. We’ve also launched a new concentration in Epidemiology and Biostatistics as part of our highly rated On-Campus/Online Professional MPH program. This 27 month program is designed to train public health professionals working in local, state and national healthcare systems with relevant skills and knowledge that can be applied in real-time to respond to emergencies such as COVID-19. Students will be able to learn epidemiology from top tier UC Berkeley faculty from anywhere in the world, around their schedule.

Berkeley’s on-campus MPH in Epidemiology is among the top ten programs in the US. This new offering combines the existing Interdisciplinary and Health Policy and Management concentration options. Students applying to the online program to start in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 will be able to declare a concentration in Epidemiology/Biostatistics at the time they apply or during the course of the program. Our mission is to train future epidemiologists and biostatisticians in data-driven, evidence-based approaches in order to develop and evaluate strategies for disease prevention and control. Our faculty and students aim to discover the causes of disease; to advance and evaluate methods of disease prevention; and to aid in planning and evaluating the effectiveness of public health programs. These skills are directly relevant to real-world public health issues. For example, Berkeley faculty are currently studying the racial inequities and environmental exposures underlying the distribution of COVID-19; launching studies to measure the community prevalence of SARS-CoV-2, and communicating with the public about the interpretation of epidemiologic data.

Students completing the online Epidemiology/Biostatistics MPH concentration will be able to demonstrate the same competencies as graduates of the residential program through rigorous epi methods and biostatistical training integrated while honing cutting edge data science skills. Some of the skills students can expect to acquire include:

  • methodological expertise in selecting and formulating a research hypothesis, choosing an appropriate study design, obtaining or collecting epidemiologic data, analyzing data, and interpreting/presenting results in written and oral forms;
  • Collaboration with both investigators and statistical colleagues in the analysis of data from biomedical and public health studies, applying knowledge of summary evidence using a systematic review or meta-analysis;
  • Understand causal inference assumptions for analyses, construct directed acyclic graphs, and identify confounders and sources of bias in an analysis using directed acyclic graphs;
  • Description of a structural definition, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sources of bias in epidemiologic studies;
  • Implementation of methods of data management, cleaning, and documentation for epidemiologic data sets, including the use of R;
  • Knowledge about how to conduct epidemiologic analyses for linear, logistic, categorical, and continuous data, Cox, and Poisson regression, including multivariate and longitudinal models.
  • Expertise in data analysis and statistical methods, based upon understanding of basics of statistical inference and limitations of methods used;
  • Presentation and visualization of data in tabular and graphical form; and
  • Interpretation of study findings, including identifying strengths and limitations of individual studies.

Students will complete a foundational MPH curriculum in Environmental Health Sciences, Health Policy and Management, and Health and Social Behavior so they are well prepared to work on interdisciplinary teams to address complex public health challenges. Students will be able to combine epidemiologic and biostatistics methods curriculum, breadth courses, and  additional elective coursework in spatial data science, infectious diseases and outbreak investigation, global health or connect to community health science through studying social epi.

Students in the online epi concentration will study with world renowned faculty such as:

  • Dr. Sandra McCoy, Program Lead,  is an Associate Professor in Residence in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She studies how social, economic, and cultural forces influence disease transmission and health outcomes.
  • Dr. John M. Colford Jr, Online Director, is a Professor of Epidemiology. He trained at Johns Hopkins (MD); Stanford (Chief Medical Resident); UCSF (residency in Internal Medicine and fellowships in ID and HIV/AIDS); and UC Berkeley (Epi PhD).
  • Dr. Arthur L. Reingold, MD, is Division Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Dr. Reingold has worked for over 40 years on the prevention and control of infectious diseases both at the national level, including eight years at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as with numerous developing countries around the world.
  • Dr. Alan Hubbard, Professor of Biostatistics. He works on an estimation of complex causal parameters and prediction algorithms using machine learning, with an emphasis on applications in epidemiology, environmental exposure and biomedicine.
  • Dr. Wayne Enanoria, is a lecturer at Berkeley Public Health. Dr. Enanoria received a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular & Cell Biology with an emphasis in Neurobiology, an MPH in Epidemiology/Biostatistics, and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Dr. Hugh Sturrock, is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics working in the Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) in the UCSF Global Health Group and is lead of the Disease Surveillance And Risk Monitoring (DiSARM) project.
  • Dr. Lee Riley, is Professor and Chair of the Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology. He is a physician, who conducts molecular epidemiology and bacterial pathogenesis research focused on infectious diseases of global importance and diseases of urban slum settlements in developing countries.
  • Dr. John Swartzberg, is a faculty member of IDV and the JMP. He chairs the editorial board that produces the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter and UC Berkeley’s Health After 50 Newsletter, as well as annual health reports on 18 clinical topics.
  • Dr. Veronica Miller, is an Adjunct Professor. Miller is an expert in regulatory science, publishing over 100 peer-reviewed publications on HIV treatment strategies and regulatory strategies for HIV, HCV, HBV, CMV, Liver diseases and rare diseases throughout her career.

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