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Ann Epidemiol. 2017 Feb;27(2):77-82. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2016.12.002. Epub 2016 Dec 9.

Applied epidemiology and public health: are we training the future generations appropriately?

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Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO; Division of Public Health Sciences and Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO. Electronic address:
Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Epidemiology Workforce Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.


To extend the reach and relevance of epidemiology for public health practice, the science needs be broadened beyond etiologic research, to link more strongly with emerging technologies and to acknowledge key societal transformations. This new focus for epidemiology and its implications for epidemiologic training can be considered in the context of macro trends affecting society, including a greater focus on upstream causes of disease, shifting demographics, the Affordable Care Act and health care system reform, globalization, changing health communication environment, growing centrality of team and transdisciplinary science, emergence of translational sciences, greater focus on accountability, big data, informatics, high-throughput technologies ("omics"), privacy changes, and the evolving funding environment. This commentary describes existing approaches to and competencies for training in epidemiology, maps macro trends with competencies, highlights an example of competency-based education in the Epidemic Intelligence Service of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and suggests expanded and more dynamic training approaches. A reexamination of current approaches to epidemiologic training is needed.


Education; Epidemiology; Genomics; Globalization; Medicine; Public health; Translational research; training

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