Being the cornerstone of public health, epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related outcomes and diseases in populations. Epidemiological information is the basis for planning and evaluating preventive or control strategies; it shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practices in public health.
The design of epidemiological studies and intervention measures, the collection and analysis of epidemiological data require appropriate expertise in statistical methodology in combination with knowledge of other scientific disciplines such as medical biology, social sciences, etc.
Statistical methodology in general and in epidemiology and public health in particular rests on solid mathematical and probabilistic foundations. This is why foundational courses are offered, in a step-up design, during the first year, supported by a broad introduction to medical and molecular biology: linear models (regression, analysis of variance, etc.), generalized linear models (logistic regression, Poisson regression, etc.), multivariate methods, longitudinal data, Bayesian methodology, so on. Evidently, fluency in the use of statistical software is expected, which is why not only dedicated courses but also assignments and course work throughout a good many courses focus on the computational aspects. Further, during the second year, specialized courses are offered in spatial epidemiology, environmental epidemiology, modelling infectious diseases, mathematical biology and epidemiology, microbial risk assessment, and so on.
Statisticians needs to be able to communicate with researchers of various fields, report results, and give effective presentations. Developing such skills is an integral part of the program.
Statisticians are in high demand, also in the field of epidemiology and public health. You will find them in public health institutes, in the role of quantitative epidemiologist, statistician as well as in the manager’s chair. Many are employed by universities, governmental agencies, such as health research institutes, food safety departments, health knowledge centers, regulatory authorities for clinical trials, etc.. You will meet them at local, national, European, and international governments, throughout the globe. Indeed, all over the world, because statistics truly is a science without borders. Culture and the legal system may differ between places, but a linear regression is the same everywhere. We all belong to the same worldwide community! Many of our former graduates originate from countries at large, complete their master training at Hasselt University, and continue towards PhD research or seek employment in yet another country. And yes, several have become professors, conducting path-breaking research and contributing towards training the next generation!
Programme coordinator: prof. dr. Niel Hens (niel.hens[at]uhasselt.be)
Administrative info: Peter Vandoren (peter.vandoren[at]uhasselt.be)