Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Welcome Message from the Department Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Helzner

On behalf of our faculty and staff, I welcome you to the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at SUNY Downstate Health Science University School of Public Health.

The Coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of Epidemiology. Epidemiologists seek to understand why diseases occur, how they are transmitted or perpetuated, and whether they are on the rise or on the decline in communities. Epidemiologists study a wide range of diseases, from chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, to infectious diseases like coronavirus and Lyme disease. The information gathered by Epidemiologists is crucial for disease prevention efforts.

Epidemiology can answer questions, such as:

  • How common is a disease in the population and is disease occurrence changing over time?
  • Are there disparities or inequities in disease incidence and outcome?
  • How are lifestyle and other factors related to disease prevention, occurrence, treatment, and prognosis?
  • How can a disease be controlled?

Our department teaches students research techniques for analyzing population-based health data, including approaches to 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.

Students learn to design, conduct, analyze, and interpret research, with a particular focus on identifying and addressing demographic and socioeconomic inequities in health in New York City and beyond. We teach students to describe the scope of public health issues in terms of demographics and time trends, and to investigate the relative contributions of biological, behavioral, socio-economic, and environmental risk factors to disease incidence and clinical course.

Connecting People

Our students and faculty actively collaborate with researchers and clinicians across Downstate Health Sciences University, and with local, national and international consortiums.
Unique features of our department include:

  • Small class sizes allow for individual attention to students, and more rigorous and writing intensive assignments
  • Research focus is on the analysis of heath inequities experienced by underserved communities locally in Brooklyn and NYC, nationally, and internationally
  • Courses in statistical software (SAS, SPSS, R), applied statistical methods, and clinical trials provide students with in-demand biomedical research skills
  • Applied practice experiences allow students to work alongside experienced epidemiologists and biostatisticians
  • Opportunities for students to gain invaluable experience analyzing public health data, presenting research at local, national, and international conferences, and publishing findings

Please join us to learn the quantitative methodology that underlies public health research.

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