Degrees Offered

Master of Public Health

The M.P.H. curriculum in Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases is designed to train students to understand the epidemiology of the major infectious agents, the diseases they cause, and the host response to those diseases. The interaction of the agent (parasite, bacterium, or virus) with the host and the influence of the environment are studied. The curriculum considers the role of immunological response, genetics, natural history of vectors, geographic distribution, and transmission and transport of agents. 

Doctor of Philosophy

The goals of doctoral training with a concentration in EMD are to provide a current theoretical and practical base of epidemiological and microbiological principles, to master research methods, and to apply these skills to investigations of the biology of infectious organisms of public health importance and the epidemiology of the diseases they cause. The approach is multidisciplinary. It includes ecological, clinical, cellular, immunologic and molecular aspects of infectious diseases, their causative agents, vertebrate hosts, and vectors. In addition, opportunities exist for Ph.D. training through interdepartmental programs in which YSPH faculty participate, such as the Microbiology and Immunobiology tracks of the Biomedical and Biological Studies program.

EMD Students Share Their Research Experience

Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a country that defines itself as Christian, socialist and collectively responsible. The municipality where I lived, Quezalguaque, was strongly Sandinista and strongly is support of President Daniel Ortega.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

The Urrutia family comes from a community in Quezalguaque called San Agustín. Approximately 46 of the 90 or so families in this comarca have been affected by Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). The majority of local families work harvesting sugarcane (pictured in the background), leading many to believe that harsh working conditions and/or pesticides may contribute to causing the epidemic.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

The predominant portion of our work consisted of surveying households of CKD cases and of the general population to determine their knowledge, attitudes and practices surrounding the illness and peritoneal dialysis.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

Many researchers and locals theorize that contaminated water may be in the causal pathway for CKD. Here I am taking water samples with Christian from Quezalguaque’s Mancomunidad, an annex of the mayor’s office that works with water systems and emergency preparedness. My summer research team tested for hardness, bacteria and pesticides in various local water sources.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

We also conducted sexual health charlas with local primary and secondary school students. During the second week of our three-week curriculum, we conducted oral health hygiene and practices assessments with the students.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a huge ecotourism destination. This is one of the pristine beaches surrounding the resort town of San Juan del Sur.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

The country also boasts a tremendous collection of mountains and both dormant and active volcanoes. Our team did A LOT of hikes. This is the view from the summit of San Cristóbal, the tallest volcano in the country.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

Our group learned of the numerous ways in which to descend a volcano. I’m pictured here demonstrating the traditional “hiking” method on Las Maderas, one of the two volanoes that form Isla Ometepe.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

Volcano boarding represents one of the more radical forms of volcano descent. This activity sits near the top of the list of the best activities in the world for thrill-seekers. Cerro Negro, León, Nicaragua.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

One of the less desirable forms of volcano descent that we experienced is the “run as quickly as possible from the eruption” method. It appears that climbing active volcanoes comes with its challenges.

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Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

Without a doubt, though, Nicaragua’s greatest resource is its people. My host family is pictured here engaging in the great Nicaraguan pastime of “porch sitting.” My family own one of the bars in Quezalguaque, and, needless to say, they were not an uptight bunch to live with. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality!

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Five minutes before kickoff of the Spain-Netherlands World Cup match, the audience is clearly backing the Dutch. The presence of the games this summer overwhelmed all other priorities. In a country struggling to feed, educate, and care for its 200 million citizens, there was widespread grumbling among Brazilians about the cost of the games. Spectators – of which few were Brazilian – were more concerned about the spectacle.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Literally “Low City,” the Cidade Baixa is the old commercial district of Salvador located near the port. It is an interesting chimera of 19th century stucco warehouses, crumbling mid-20th century concrete edifices and modern steel-and-glass offices. But it’s this exact combination of old and new, preserving the past while also moving ahead on the world stage, that defines Salvador.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

YSPH PhD student Kate Hacker (right) and her Brazilian student assistant Carol Lisboa (left) compare notes while conducting a rat activity survey in the slum community of Pau da Lima. Kate’s work involves making direct measurements of rat activity in the community - interviewing locals and placing tracking boards throughout the area.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

While parts of Pau da Lima are densely packed, areas where the valley bottoms are constantly flooded tend to be left to the poorest residents. Open sewers drain the entire community, pulling all of the waste products, pollutants, and microbes down towards the most vulnerable. Contact with the sewage has been associated with leptospirosis, though past efforts to construct closed sewers have been unsuccessful. The brown stains on the white walls of the house indicate the height of past flooding events, when the waste-filled waters of the sewers fill the valley.

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Salvador, Brazil

The residents of Pau da Lima were often interested in the research that we were conducting in their back yards. Neighbors would often stop by to chat with us, and children were interested in our activities. Here I'm showing a local boy a sample of soil that I collected around his house.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Thousands of people live packed onto the hillsides of Pau da Lima. Waste and detritus from higher on the slope flows down through the lives of the less fortunate below. Social services are limited, and drug trafficking has introduced a great deal of violence into the community over the past few decades. In addition, the red, sandy soil is not well compacted, and constant excavation for new construction, combined with tropical rainfalls, has led to repeated slope failures.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Above the Cidade Baixa is the old town known as Palourinho. Home to dozens of colonial churches and hundreds of brightly-colored shops and apartments, Pelourinho is the heart of Salvador. The cobblestone streets are filled with vibrant music, performers, charming cafes, and hundreds of bland tourist shops. Salvador may be the original capital of Brazil, and Pelourinho may be filled with a wonderful appeal, but Brazil is a modern nation with a rapidly-developing middle class supported by strong capitalist beliefs.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

The Sao Joao (Saint John) festival is a major event in Brazil, particularly in the state of Bahia, which occurs in the middle of June. Celebrations are spread out over several days or weeks (sometimes simply referred to as the “June Party”), with multiple festivities in honor of Catholic saints. This year, the Sao Joao festival coincided with the opening of the World Cup, which meant that no one did any work for about two weeks straight. Although incredibly frustrating when you’re trying to get a project done on a short summer schedule, at least the party was good. The administration at Fiocruz put together a celebration on a Friday night and invited all the workers at the institute. A wide variety of local dishes were served, as was a healthy amount of a thick regional liqueur that tasted like Christmas (no better way to describe it). The highlight of the evening was the band – quite famous in Bahia – that played samba music for four hours straight.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Young men are at the greatest risk for contracting leptospirosis because they tend to come in contact with the open sewers and rats more often than other demographics. Although this young man was wearing rubber boots, he waded through the blue-gray sewer water several times while I watched. The residents of Pau da Lima, despite their disadvantaged living conditions, often maintain an upbeat outlook.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

This is a composite panorama of two adjacent neighborhoods in Salvador, separated only by a 6-lane thoroughfare. Despite the growing presence of a middle class, Brazil is still very much a country defined by a huge wealth gap. The haves live in gated communities and high-rise apartment complexes, while the have-nots are consigned to ad hoc brick structures pressed into the hillsides. Political, economic, and social values are often delimitated by class, and unrest – especially in the lead up to the World Cup – is becoming more common.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Kate and Carol again, this time investigating rat activity among homes near the valley bottom. Some walkways near the top of the valleys are paved, though they all become dirt (and mud) paths near the bottom. These particular paths were mostly used by goats and sheep. Banana trees line the open sewer, while a small rivulet in the lower left drains the waste of the local houses into the main water body. All workers associated with Fiocruz wear white lab coats in the field to identify themselves as researchers.

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Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Starting and ending with the World Cup. Andrew Schneider (left, MPH student), Gili Hrusa (center, MPH student), and Katie Owers (right, PhD student) about 30 minutes before the start of the Spain-Netherlands match. Luckily, neither of the teams had blue as one of their primary colors, so we were able to blend somewhat well.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

Located 10,000 feet above sea level, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery was certainly worth the hike. It is regarded as the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan and overlooks the spectacular Paro Valley.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

Using an aspirator and a flashlight, cattle-baited catch was carried out hourly from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Female, blood-seeking Anopheline mosquitoes were usually found on a cow’s abdomen or legs.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

While men wear ‘gho’, women wear ‘kira’ to government offices and temples.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

Mr. Rinzin Namgay, the chief program officer of VDCP as well as my primary preceptor in Bhutan, gave a lesson on Anopheline larval sampling in Sarpang Town.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

Punakha dzong, also called “the palace of great happiness or bliss”, is the second oldest and second largest administrative center in Bhutan. The current King and Queen of Bhutan got married at this beautiful location in October 2011.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

A visit to one of the Tibetan Buddhist temples in Gelephu Town during an auspicious day. The prayer wheels in the background were to be spinned to accumulate wisdom and good karma.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

Made of bronze and gold, the Buddha Point in Thimpu is said to be one of the world’s largest Buddha statues.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

My friend, Karma, introduced me to this hidden gem of Chokuling. Pilgrims usually cross the holy stream multiple times before reaching a temple on a hill.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

An amazing view of Thimpu from Buddha Point.

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Gelephu Town, Sarpang District, Bhutan

Collecting Anopheles from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. was made possible by these supportive colleagues. Following a long night like this, we would take a short rest in the morning and begin species identification at noon.

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