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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

School of Public Health

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (EPID, BIOS)


The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics prepares students to critically examine and analyze population-based health data and advance biomedical research. We teach students to describe the scope of public health issues by giving them tools to quantify disease occurrence in the community in terms of demographics and time trends. Additionally, we teach students to identify the relative contributions of biological, behavioral, socio-economic, and environmental risk factors to disease incidence and clinical course.

We give students a toolbox of analytic approaches to help determine whether associations between risk factors and health outcomes are causal or coincidental. Determining causality is crucial to the development of prevention and treatment efforts.

Our students and faculty actively collaborate with PhD researchers and clinicians across Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn and NYC, the US, and around the world. Students learn to design, conduct, analyze, and interpret studies to identify and ameliorate demographic and socioeconomic inequities in health and illness in New York City and beyond.

Unique features of our department:

  • Our small class sizes allow for individual attention to students and more rigorous assignments.
  • We focus on the analysis of heath inequities experienced by underserved communities locally in Brooklyn and NYC, and nationally and internationally.
  • Our courses in statistical software (SAS, SPSS, R), applied statistical methods, and clinical trials provide students with in-demand biomedical research skills. Faculty also develop new biostatistical methods for applied public health research.
  • Students can participate in the mapping of the New York City microbiome and ongoing urban biosurveillance in our Infectious Disease Epidemiology course.
  • Other fieldwork experiences allow students to see the work of experienced epidemiologists and biostatisticians first-hand, both locally and in international settings.
  • Students can gain invaluable experience analyzing public health data sources, presenting their research at local and national conferences, and publishing their findings. 


Elizabeth P. Helzner, PhD, MS
Interim Chair and Associate Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics