Epidemiology is the study of the distributions and determinants of health-related events in human populations. A basic tenet of epidemiology is that diseases are not randomly distributed in the population. Determining the prevalence and risk factors associated with these events, as well as measuring the magnitude of such occurrences, is the basis of public health action. An essential part of this determination involves the utilization of epidemiologic and biostatistical methods to evaluate the effectiveness of disease control measures.

Students enrolled in the epidemiology specialization are required to take advanced level training in chronic and infectious disease epidemiology, advanced biostatistics, and research design. There is opportunity for students to choose from epidemiology electives in the following areas: infectious diseases, nutrition, genetics, environment, aging, HIV/AIDS, cancer and heart disease. Course work in specialized statistical applications is also available. Students will participate in on-going epidemiological research programs throughout the university system or community through a field work assignment.

Health Policy and Management

The challenge of delivering high quality, cost effective health care and developing public policies that maintain health is becoming increasingly complex as the trend towards globalization permeates all living systems. The demand for highly skilled policy makers, managers, and global health specialists has never been higher which has resulted in health policy and mangement (HPM) being one of the fastest growing and exciting fields in our country today.

The mission of the Health Policy and Management (HPM) specialization is to promote and protect the public's health through the preparation of graduates for careers leading toward senior level leadership in health services policy and management, and to conduct research and disseminate knowledge that will advance the organization, financing, and delivery of health services. The program focuses on culturally diverse groups and communities, especially those in the State of Hawai‘i and the Asia-Pacific region.

Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Working Group defines Indigenous communities, peoples and nations as those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system. This MPH specialization is designed to provide students with skills and training necessary to serve Indigenous people and assist in addressing their health and wellness needs.

Indigenous people throughout the world experience grave health and socioeconomic disparities. Many of the current inequities are the result of historical national and local policies designed to eliminate and/or assimilate Indigenous people. Knowledge of history, policy, health determinants and ethics is essential to address and eliminate the inequities faced by Indigenous people.

Students enrolled in the Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health specialization are required to take advanced level training in Indigenous health policy, ethics and research design. There is opportunity for students to choose from Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health electives in many areas across the campus. Students will participate in on-going research programs with Indigenous communities through a practicum assignment.

Social and Behavioral Health Sciences

Over the last century, chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases as the leading causes of death and, despite advances in medicine and technology, health disparities are increasing in almost every country. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, unsafe sexual practices, substance abuse and overexposure to the sun are major contributors to disability and death. Social factors, such as discrimination, poverty, dangerous living and work environments, and unequal distribution of resources (including health care resources), also affect health status. In this program, students will examine a) behavioral and social theories in health promotion; b) behavioral, social, environmental, and political interventions that can promote health theories in health promotion; and c) skills required for assessing health problems and for planning and evaluating health programs. Course assignments provide students the opportunity to apply knowledge, to practice skills, to enhance computer literacy, and to improve oral and written communications. Opportunities to participate in university-based and community-based research and service programs are provided.

Community-Based and Translational Research

Translational research is the investigation of how to successfully transform scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into community applications to reduce incidence, morbidity, and mortality. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) in health is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves investigators and members of the community in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. This approach increases the likelihood that interventions will be embraced by the community and that community members will gain knowledge, skills, and other benefits from the research.

PhD in Epidemiology

The PhD in epidemiology is comprised of graduate faculty from the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, Department of Microbiology, and the Pacific Biosciences Reseach Center, thereby providing a diverse opportunity for those interested in pursuing a PhD in epidemiology.