Environmental Health Sciences
Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology
The effect on human populations of physical, biological, and chemical factors in the external environment
The goals of the Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology (OEE) concentration are to provide graduate students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will allow them to study the effects of environmental and occupational exposures on human health, using best available techniques in environmental epidemiology. The OEE concentration, a fully cross-disciplinary program with in-depth exposure to multiple disciplines, is designed to accommodate the interests of students in either the Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) Department or the Epidemiology (EPID) Department. It is generally expected that students who are interested in OEE will apply to the EHS Department if their primary professional interest is a career in environmental health (with a skill set emphasizing OEE), whereas students who are interested in OEE will apply to the EPID Department if their primary professional interest is a career in epidemiology (with a skill set emphasizing OEE).
Students who complete the M.P.H. degree in EHS or EPID with a concentration in OEE will have basic and advanced training in epidemiology; the understanding and skills needed to assess the effects of environmental/occupational agents on health; expertise in exposure measurements, including the ability to interpret sampling results; and the strengths and limitations of different environmental epidemiologic study designs.
Students who complete the Ph.D. degree with OEE as a major discipline will have, in addition, in-depth knowledge of state-of-the art methods for exposure assessment including the application of biological markers; in-depth understanding of biological pathways linking environmental exposures with disease; and the design and execution of sophisticated cross-sectional and longitudinal epidemiologic studies. The Ph.D. thesis will be conducted under close supervision and will take advantage of any of the many cutting-edge studies being conducted by OEE faculty.
The Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology curriculum, which is comprised of courses from the departments of Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, fulfills requirements for the M.P.H. degree in Environmental Health Sciences or Epidemiology; Ph.D. students will, in addition, take upper level courses specific to the subject matter of their targeted theses.
Among the outstanding projects that are available for involvement of trainees and other scientists are state-of-the-art investigations of air pollution, asthma and cardiovascular disease; gene-environment interactions and the toxicity of metals and pesticides in children, workers, and other adults; pesticides, neurologic and cognitive function; male reproductive toxicity; arsenic and bladder cancer; dioxin pollution and exposure; occupation and other risk factors for cancer of the lung, breast, upper aerodigestive tract, liver and pancreas; climate change and heat-associated morbidity; environmental influences on patterns of infectious disease; exposures to phthalates; asbestos, and much more. Site locations include areas in Michigan, New England, Oklahoma, Mexico, India, South Africa, Brazil, and many other countries.
The OEE serves as a research training base for a wide range of students and a network of potential collaborators for visiting scientists. The major focus with regards to training is on doctoral students and masters students training in environmental epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, but many other students who develop an interest in this area have been trained by our faculty, including medical students and physicians training in occupational/environmental medicine, general preventive medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics; biostatisticians training in environmental biostatistics; toxicologists being cross-trained to pursue inter-disciplinary research in toxic metals; and others. Trainees typically find a mentor based on trainee interests and available projects and then work with the mentor’s research team to identify a specific focus of interest or a new “piggy-back” project based on any of the large, on-going research projects and existing databases and archived samples available for analysis. They then work with the associated OEE team to execute the research.
Funding for support of a limited number of students and post-doctoral fellows is available through a mixture of training grants, research grants, and graduate student research assistantships.
For more information, contact individual associated faculty in your interest area or either of the Concentration Leaders (Howard Hu or Marie O'Neill).