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Course Catalog

340.608.60 Observational Epidemiology

2nd term
4 credits
Academic Year:
2014 - 2015
East Baltimore
Class Times:
  • M F,  9:00 - 10:20am
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Elizabeth Golub
Course Instructors:

340.601 or 550.694-695 or 340.751; prior or concurrent enrollment in 140.612 or equivalent. Students must complete Introduction to Online Learning prior to enrolling in this course.


Expands upon material presented in introductory level epidemiologic concepts and methods, using examples from the published literature through weekly online lectures. Emphasizes interpretation and the ability to critically evaluate issues related to populations / study design, measurement, population comparisons and inference, including: modern cohort study designs; advanced nested designs; novel techniques for exposure assessment; interpretation and utility of measures of impact; sources of bias and methods for their prevention; descriptive and analytical goals for observational study inference; the counterfactual model for defining exchangeability, cause, and confounding; and synthesis of inferences from observational studies.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe modern design features for cohort studies, including use of existing clinical and administrative databases
  2. Compare and contrast various nested designs, including methods for participant selection and analysis
  3. Identify biases resulting from participant selection and misallocation of person-time and Identify and interpret epidemiologic measures of disease frequency
  4. Describe the issues underlying measurement of exposures and outcomes in observational research
  5. Identify the effect of measurement error and bias on epidemiologic inferences and calculate and contrast measures of association and measures of impact.
  6. Utilize and illustrate a framework for distinguishing different inferential goals of an epidemiological study
  7. Define concepts and terminology in causal inference for epidemiology and develop graphical approaches (e.g., DAGs) for models that integrate confounding and mediation effects
  8. lllustrate, interpret, and contrast ‘classical’ (e.g., regression) approaches for addressing confounding with modern techniques (e.g., propensity-score and inverse-weighting methods)
  9. Identify and critically analyze contemporaneous articles that utilize epidemiologic designs and methods
  10. Articulate concerns about limitations in the epidemiological approach
Methods of Assessment:

Short quizzes (4 @ 10%), a final exam (20%), and a course project (40%)

Instructor Consent:

No consent required

Special Comments:

This class blends traditional classroom time and outside-of-class activities with a corresponding reduction in class sessions. This class will meet twice a week. Across the course of the term, 12 hours of classroom time will be replaced by outside-of-class work. Students are expected to spend a total of 9-10 hours a week on work outside of the classroom (recorded lectures, readings, homework assignments, quizzes and project).