Subspecialties in epidemiology – Part 1

October 2, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Higher than average earnings, rapid growth rate projected over the next few years and the opportunity to work in an exciting field in public health make epidemiology a very popular career choice for many students today. Making it even more attractive is the fact that within this broad specialty, there are several different subspecialties to choose from. If you are considering a career in public health but are not quite sure which specialty would be the best fit for you, knowing a little bit about the different areas within epidemiology can help you make a more informed decision. 


Clinical trial research epidemiologist

Students learning clinical procedures from their hospital mentors Clinical trial research epidemiologist’s work on monitoring clinical trials of newly developed drugs and procedures. Their overall goal is to observe the results and possible side effects of the drugs or procedures with a focus on decreasing the number of negative outcomes. These experts usually work for drug companies and national or international health organisations.

It is important to note that this role does not involve caring for individual patients at their bedside. Instead, you would be working behind the scenes to improve the health and wellness of entire communities around the globe.



Infection control epidemiologist 

An epidemiologist who specialises in infection control deals with public health issues within hospitals and other medical facilities. As an infection control epidemiologist you may work for local, state or university hospitals where you would primarily oversee general cleanliness and sanitation to prevent spread of infections. You would also be dealing with enforcement of hygiene issues and MRSA within the hospital.

During the course of your ongoing investigations, you would collect and analyse health-related data within the facility through observations, blood samples and other bodily samples, interviews and surveys.


Disaster epidemiologist

Disaster epidemiologists study the varying factors that cause disasters directly or indirectly and find ways to reduce their adverse health effects. This expert uses advanced epidemiologic techniques, such as surveillance systems to identify diseases and injuries that may be caused by the disaster.

One of the most notable tasks of a disaster epidemiologist is to ensure that relief workers obtain absolutely accurate situational awareness so that they can respond to the emergency more effectively.


Molecular epidemiologist

Molecular epidemiology can be very helpful in studying specific diseases such as AIDS and polio, which are caused by viruses. A specialist in molecular epidemiology applies advanced molecular biology techniques to the study of different problems that could potentially develop in a community. For instance, the nucleic acid analysis allows public health workers to look into what causes diseases in different populations and to precisely measure the different factors in the exposure to a disease.


Pharmaceutical epidemiologist

These experts do research and clinical studies on how different pharmaceuticals affect health and physiology of a specific human population. Pharmaceutical epidemiologists spend much of their time in the laboratory, studying how chemicals and tissue samples react with one another. To qualify to work as a pharmaceutical epidemiologist, it is advisable to take classes in biology, public health, statistics and chemistry while you are studying for your MPH.