Certificate in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology

The variety and amount of genetic and molecular data generated by novel laboratory techniques continues to accelerate, and these data are increasingly integrated into epidemiologic research. The Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology (GME) certificate program at Rollins prepares students to assess, manage, and analyze these data in the context of scientific and public health utilities.

Through coursework, a practicum, and a culminating experience, GME students will gain mastery of study design, data analysis, and interpretation of results pertaining to the use of genetic and molecular data in research and public health programming.


1. Describe how knowledge of the genetic and molecular basis for human diseases can be applied in public health research and practice. Describe the importance of genetic epidemiology and molecular epidemiology to public health.

2. Identify key principles and methods for biological sample collection, including informed consent, sample handling, and biobanking (e.g., chain of custody, quality assurance, use of samples and data).

3. Describe how genetic and molecular data are generated, including basic knowledge of current laboratory technologies. Describe the latest technologies in molecular and genomic data generation used to investigate disease, pathogenesis, and normal variation of traits. Identify potential sources of error and bias from technical and biological artifacts.

4. Recognize how molecular biology, biomarkers, and genetics can be incorporated into the design, analysis, and interpretation of epidemiological studies, including integration of findings from other genetic/molecular studies.

a. Describe the major genetic epidemiologic research study designs and their advantages and limitations. Apply knowledge of inheritance to understanding the genetic architecture of diseases and health conditions.

b. Describe the major molecular epidemiologic research study designs and their advantages and limitations.

5. Justify the roles of: epidemiologists, clinicians, basic scientists, bioinformaticians, and statisticians in the design, analysis, and interpretation of epidemiological studies that incorporate genetic and molecular data.

6. Describe the ways that genetic and molecular tests are currently deployed in public health practice (e.g., blood lipids screening, illicit drug and alcohol screening, foodborne outbreak investigations, influenza vaccination targeting, blood lead screening, genetic screening of newborn and prenatal genetic testing, precision targeting of tumor biomarkers, BRCA1 sequencing, microarray testing in intellectual disability, disease transmission modeling).

7. Interpret and critique published epidemiologic research studies that include genetic and molecular data, including the design and analysis of validation studies (for biomarkers) and/or replication studies (for genetic association studies). Demonstrate the ability to explain, both orally and in writing, the findings and implications of molecular and genetic epidemiologic studies.

8. Describe the legal, ethical, and social issues that may be associated with the collection and application of genetic and genomic information and molecular biomarkers.

9. Gain experience managing and analyzing genetic and molecular data. 

Classes (9 credits total):

Pre-Requisites 

Class Number

Class Name

Credit Hours

Offered

EPI 510

Introduction to Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology

1

Fall, Year 1

Core Courses 

Class Number

Class Name 

Credit Hours

Offered

EPI 547

Public Health Applications of Molecular Epidemiology I

2

Spring, odd years

EPI 552

Human Genome Epidemiology

2

Spring

GME Electives (four credits total)*  

Class Number

Class Name

Credit Hours

Offered

EH 527 

Biomarkers in Environmental Public Health

2

Spring 

EH 740

Foundations of Molecular Toxicology

2

Spring

EH 523

Foundations of Neurotoxicology

2

Spring, odd years

EH 520

Human Toxicology

3

Fall

GH 571

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

2

Fall

EPI 556

Applied Genomic Epidemiology

2

Fall

EPI 590R

Methods in Obesity Epidemiology

2

Fall, may not be offered every year

EPI 591L

Methods in Nutritional Epidemiology

2

Fall

BIOS 555

High-Throughput Data using R and BioConductor

2

Fall

BIOS 570

Methods in Statistical Genetics

2

Spring, odd years

IBS 746

Graduate Human Genetics (special permission)

4

Fall

IBS 593

Population and Quantitative Genetics (special permission)

4

Spring, odd years

*Other courses may also be appropriate with special permission of the certificate director.

Practicum (0 credits): The student’s practicum should be relevant to genetic or molecular epidemiology and will be approved by the certificate director.

Thesis or Capstone Project (3 - 4 credits): The thesis project or culminating experience should include relevance to genetic or molecular epidemiology, and ideally will include analysis or manipulation of genetic or molecular data. Students are likely to work with one of the core GME faculty on their thesis/capstone as an advisor or co-advisor. Students intending to get a GME certificate must have their concept paper or other initial proposal approved by the certificate director.

Field Experiences: Field experiences are not required but attendance is encouraged. These are designed to show students the data-generating machines, data processing, and use of genetic and molecular data in public health practice in situ. Field experiences may include a tour of the Georgia Department of Public Health lab on Clairmont Road, a tour of the Emory Genetics lab and/or the Emory Integrated Genomics Core lab, and a tour of a lab at the CDC.

All Rollins MPH and MSPH students are eligible for this certificate. Students who are interested in the GME certificate should enroll for the pre-requisite 1-credit seminar course, EPI 510: Introduction to Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, in their first fall semester. Students should apply for the certificate by October 1, and will be notified of acceptance by October 20th. Students may enroll in EPI 510 and apply to the certificate in their second year with the permission of the certificate director. The application may be accessed here.

Practicum

Students must submit a completed practicum pre-approval form (if required for their program) or a 1-2 paragraph description of their proposed practicum to the Program Director. Students are responsible for gaining certificate practicum approval prior to starting the practicum experience.

Thesis/capstone

Students must submit a thesis/capstone proposal (if required for their program) or a 1-2 paragraph description of their intended project to the Program Director. The description should minimally include the proposed research question, data source, and analytic plan. Students are encouraged to submit the proposal for certificate thesis/capstone approval as soon as they have identified a project. Students are responsible for gaining certificate approval before starting their thesis/capstone.

Certificate clearance

Students should submit a completed certificate clearance form to jena.black@emory.edu by the date listed below.

Spring Graduation April 1st
Summer Graduation July 1st
Fall Graduation December 1st

These faculty maintain research programs that are highly relevant to genetic and/or molecular epidemiology.

Epidemiology: Jennifer Mulle, Roberd Bostick, Nika Fedirko, Neel Gandhi, Marta Gwinn, Muin Khoury, Tim Lash, Michele Marcus, Lauren McCullough, Brad Pearce, Stephanie Sherman, Yan Sun, Viola Vaccarino

Environmental Health: Dana Barr, William (Mike) Caudle, Matt Gribble, Karen Levy, Gary Miller

Biostatistics: Yijuan Hu, Zhaohui (Steve) Qin, Glen Satten, Hao Wu

Global Health: Jorge Vidal

Behavioral Sciences and Health Education: Colleen McBride

Questions?

For more information about the Certificate in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, please contact: 

Jennifer Mulle, PhD, MS
Program Director
jmulle@emory.edu

Jena Black
jena.black@emory.edu
404-727-8729