Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Stephen Marc Schwartz
ENV H 573
Seattle Campus

Methods and Issues in Using Biological Measurements in Epidemiologic Research

Introduction to use of measurements from biological specimens in epidemiologic studies. Prepares epidemiology and laboratory science students for conduct of interdisciplinary human studies. Evaluation of biomarkers, preliminary studies, methodologic issues, quality control. Brief review of molecular biology. Applications and current literature discussed. Prerequisite: EPI 511 or EPI 512. Offered: jointly with EPI 573; A.

Class description

Human studies of disease etiology and prognosis increasingly involve the measurement of one or more characteristics of biological material. The purpose of this course is to provide students with an introduction to the methods and issues arising in the design, conduct, and analysis of these studies.

Student learning goals

be able to identify strengths and limitations of using biological measures in human studies of disease etiology, and the characteristics of biomarkers that should be established prior to incorporating them into epidemiologic studies;

have developed some familiarity with basic concepts of molecular biology, such as genes, alleles, polymorphisms, transcription, translation, etc

be able to identify the goals of, and strategies in conducting, transitional studies of biomarkers

be able to identify potential sources and impact of biomarker measurement error, in particular the role of differential and nondifferential misclassification of binary and continuous biomarkers;

be able to identify strengths and limitations of various traditional epidemiologic study designs for the purposes of incorporating biomarker measurements;

have developed skills for critiquing scientific reports from human populations that involve biologic measures in the study of disease etiology.

General method of instruction

There are approximately 22 sessions. Twenty sessions will consist of lectures on methodologic issues, applications of methodologic issues to particular diseases, discussion of homework assignments, discussion of research papers, discussion of real or hypothetical case studies, or a combination of these. All readings can be downloaded and printed from the course website. Two sessions are reserved for student presentations of final papers.

Recommended preparation

EPI 511 or EPI512 (preferably EPI513 as well) Coursework in human biology and statistics Interest in conducting studies incorporating biomarkers

Class assignments and grading

Assignments: Assignments will be distributed throughout the quarter (see attached course schedule.), and will involve written exposition of ideas, interpretation of data and/or calculations, etc. Some may involve data analyses (including multivariate methods) for which access to a basic statistical package (e.g., SAS, SPSS, STATA) will be necessary. We will discuss each assignment in class on the date indicated in the syllabus (unless otherwise changed).

Paper: Each student will write a brief paper summarizing the use of a biomarker (or family of related biomarkers) in studies of human disease. During the final four class sessions, each student will present a brief (approximately 12 minute) presentation summarizing his or her paper.

The grade will be based on class attendance and participation in discussions (10%), three assignments (contributing 20% each), and a final paper and presentation (30%).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Stephen Marc Schwartz
Date: 09/12/2013