Master of Science in Molecular Epidemiology

The Master of Science in Molecular Epidemiology is designed for students interested in statistical methods and biomedical research design.

This program focuses on understanding and applying statistical methods for the design of biomedical research, understanding epidemiological study designs, and using and interpreting results from specialized computer software for the management and statistical analysis of research data. This program encourages applicants with undergraduate degrees in quantitative biological sciences or other related fields.

Program Director

Mariana Stern
Mariana Stern, PhD

Professor of Clinical Population and Public Health Sciences

marianas@usc.edu

Application Deadlines

FALL

Priority: December 1st
Final: May 1st

SPRING

October 1st

SUMMER

March 1st

For More Information

Core Courses

Typically completed in 2 years, the 38-unit degree consists of 4 epidemiology core courses (15 units), 3 to 7 biological sciences core courses (12 units), 1 to 2 elective courses (at least 3 units), directed research (4 units) and a master’s thesis (4 units). During the program, students gain an understanding of study design and statistical analysis, and work with laboratories to gain hands-on experience in statistical and epidemiological methods, and molecular, genetic or population-based studies

Epidemiology Core Courses

Major parametric and nonparametric statistical tools used in biomedical research, computer packages including SAS. Includes laboratory. 

Statistical methods for analysis of categorical data including dichotomous, ordinal, multinomial and count data, using Stata package. Includes laboratory. 

Terminology/uses of epidemiology and demography; sources/uses of population data; types of epidemiologic studies; risk assessment; common sources of bias in population studies; principles of screening. 

Genetic principles; design and analysis of family studies; introduction to likelihood estimation; segregation and linkage analysis; biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility, and disease; laboratory methods; susceptibility genes; association and linkage disequilibrium. 

Biological Sciences Core Courses

Exploration of how appropriate biomarkers can predict response to cancer therapy, tumor recurrence after surgery, rapid detection of tumor response and overall prognosis. 
Recommended Preparation: INTD 571 and a basic understanding of molecular biology. 

Epidemiology, pathobiology, carcinogenesis, tumor biology and heterogeneity; retroviruses, oncogenes, cell cycle control, genetics of cancer, tumor immunology; treatment strategies.

Overview of microbes, their life cycles and the host response they elicit, evade or exploit, including the manipulation and the malfunction of the immune system.

Current perspectives on major research areas in cell biology. Emphasis will be on in-depth examination of cellular structures, regulatory processes, intra-cellular routing and targeting, and cell/environmental interactions.

Chemistry of peptides and proteins; protein structure and folding; molecular basis of protein action. 
Recommended Preparation: general biochemistry. 

Normal histology and introduction to basic pathological concepts. Provides a solid and basic understanding of normal structures and how they relate to function. 

Relationship between histopathological and clinical manifestations of disease and their underlying molecular mechanisms. Topics include inflammatory, developmental, environmental, degenerative, and neoplastic disease processes. 
Prerequisite: INTD 550

Biochemistry and molecular biology of replication, transcription, RNA processing, translation, and regulation of gene expression with emphasis on multicellular eukaryotic organisms and comparisons to prokaryotes. 

Physical-chemical basis of life processes: protein structure and enzyme function; synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleotides. 
Prerequisite: open to qualified students. 

With a physiological overview, differentiates genetic and environmental disease; emphasis on the relationships between lifestyle, behavior, and health. 
Prerequisite: admission to PhD in Population and Public Health Sciences, Health Behavior Research or basic biology. 

History and philosophy of public health genetics and mechanisms of genetic diseases. Epidemiologic methods used to identify genetic diseases in individuals, families, and populations. Emphasis on prevention and relevant ethical issues. 
Recommended Preparation: PM 512

Examines the interrelationships among biology, the environment and health, including the fundamental principles of basic toxicology and biology underlying environmental health effects. 
Recommended Preparation: PM 529  

Master's Thesis

The program culminates in a master’s thesis on a topic of the student’s choosing. Research consists of original work worthy of submission to a publication or peer review journal.

Guidelines for PM Thesis Courses 
Full-time students begin working on their thesis at the beginning of their second year and register for PM 594a/b over two consecutive semesters. When you are enrolled in PM 594a, you will select a Committee Chair (or thesis advisor), that will help you form your thesis committee and guide you through your thesis project. The thesis is written like a scientific paper which is typically about 30-40 pages double spaced, although there is no page requirement. A thesis defense is not required for MS students, only the submission of your final manuscript that must be approved by each of your committee members and submitted to the Graduate School by the posted deadlines. Additional details for the submission guidelines and formatting can be found here at the MS Thesis Guidelines below:

Directed Research

Students conduct directed research in combinations of wet and dry labs, or dry labs only, in Population and Public Health Sciences, Biochemistry or Pathology.

Program Faculty

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