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2nd term
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
3 credits
Academic Year:
2020 - 2021
Class Times:
  • Thursday,  4:00 - 5:00pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Course Instructor s:
Gundula Bosch



Are you interested in fundamental ideas about how cause and effect relationships govern how biomedical and public health researchers work? Have you ever asked yourself what 'causation' actually is and how the concept historically evolved? We will discuss different theories of causation, and analyze how sub-disciplines of science approach causation. In this course, faculty from each JHSPH department will lead a discussion of how causal relationships are understood within their field, and what approaches allow us to gain causal insight on that topic by observing phenomena ranging in scale from the molecular to the global.

Acquaints students with fundamental ideas and historic theories about causation. Discusses how cause and effect relationships govern biomedical and public health research. Compares how sub-disciplines of the biomedical and public health sciences approach causation using concrete case examples. Addresses limitations of causal inference in biomedicine and public health. Examines strategies to mitigate the limitations of causal inference.

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Explain three key concepts about causation: The Regularity Theory of Causation, The Counterfactual Theory of Causation, and the idea of necessary connection
  2. Describe how causal inference has been historically used in the health sciences
  3. Differentiate how is causality is established among the public health disciplines and fields
  4. Illustrate limitations of causal inference in the public health sciences
  5. Appraise how limitations of causal inference can be mitigated in research and practice
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 30% Case study work
  • 40% Final Project
  • 30% Course and discussion participation

Instructor Consent:

No consent required

Jointly Offered With:
Special Comments:

This course is part of the JHSPH R3 Program series (, and represents a collaborative effort of all 10 Departments at the School.