Epidemiology is a core science in public health that includes surveillance, observation, hypothesis testing, analytic research, and experiments and interventions. As the fundamental science of preventive medicine and public health, epidemiology has traditionally focused on disease causation through population studies. Epidemiologists develop and evaluate hypotheses about the effects of genetic, behavioral, environmental, and healthcare factors on human health and develop the knowledge bases for disease prevention and control programs. The field is interdisciplinary and has a methodology distinct from, but dependent on, biostatistics. Epidemiologists incorporate into their research the knowledge base and tools of other disciplines including the biologic sciences, clinical research, and other population sciences.
Main Areas of Focus
While our primary efforts focus on leading research relating to different aspects of infectious disease epidemiology and public health, epidemiologists at NIAID support research of relevance to the mission of NIAID, with approaches that include the following:
- Design of clinical and population-based studies with appropriate methods and sampling strategies, focusing on reducing study bias and improving data collection
- Analysis of randomized and non-randomized study cohorts using multivariable methods to identify host and pathogen contributions to infection and disease
- Application of machine learning and other data science tools to study disease risk factors for selected infectious diseases and immune disorders
- Molecular techniques to investigate immunological responses to emerging and re-emerging viral diseases
- Research areas of particular interest include emerging viral pathogens, antimicrobial resistance, nontuberculous mycobacteria, malaria, SARS-CoV-2, Ebola, invasive fungal infections, inborn errors of immunity