What is Epidemiology?

The field of epidemiology deals with the study of distributions, causes, prevention, and the control of acute and chronic diseases in populations. Disease is not randomly distributed. Instead, it occurs more often among people and groups with certain shared characteristics.

Epidemiologists seek to learn why, how, and when some people contract diseases when others do not. The answers to these questions are necessary for monitoring the health status of a population, for developing new medical treatments and disease prevention efforts, and for providing an evidence base to health care and policy leaders. For these reasons, epidemiology is considered a cornerstone of public health practice.

Where Does an Epidemiologist Work?

Public Health Organizations:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • EcoHealth Alliance
  • GAVI Alliance
  • Pan American Health Organization

Local and State Health Departments:

  • Georgia
  • Utah
  • Rhode Island
  • Kansas
  • And many others


Private Industries:

  • Pharma
  • Consulting Health insurance
  • Booze Allen Hamilton
  • Deloitte
  • Wellcentive
  • Cepheid
  • Humana

Academic and Medical Institutions:

  • Emory University
  • University of Chicago School of Medicine
  • American College of Surgeons
  • Children’s Health of Atlanta
  • Children’s Healthcare of Philadelphia

What Does an Epidemiologist Do?

  • Discover the causes of diseases in order to advance prevention, treatment, and control.
  • Determine the burden or amount of different diseases in a community, state, or larger population.  
  • Study the natural history and prognosis of disease.
  • Evaluate and compare treatment and prevention efforts to identify which are the safest and most effective.
  • Provide evidence to policy makers and regulators about how aspects of the environment, technology, clinical medical practices, or social processes affect population health.