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4th term
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
3 credits
Academic Year:
2020 - 2021
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor s:
Gundula Bosch

Introduction to Online Learning is required prior to participating in any of the School's Internet-based courses. none


Are you interested in fundamental ideas about cause and effect relationships, and how they govern 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 establish causality. 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 today's biomedical and public health research and evidence-based decision-making. Compares how fields and sub-disciplines in biomedicine and public health approach causation using concrete case examples that illustrate major morbidity and mortality-related health problems. 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 causality is established among the biomedical and public health fields using research examples that illustrate global, morbidity- and mortality-related health problems
  4. Recognize the limitations of causal inference in the public health sciences
  5. Appraise approaches to mitigate limitations in establishing causal inference in health 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.