In the Division of Epidemiology, we focus on conducting observational studies and clinical trials to address major public health challenges nationally and globally. In addition to leading numerous investigator-initiated projects and participating in many long-term multi-center observational cohort studies, our faculty are actively engaged in collaborative research across the school of medicine as well as other schools and institutes, including the McCormick School of Engineering, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education and Social Policy.
What We Do
The division has a lengthy and proud history of involvement in NIH-sponsored, multi-site, longitudinal cohort studies, and its faculty oversee many investigator-initiated, NIH-sponsored research projects and trials focused on population health. While the early years of the division focused most intensively on cardiovascular health and disease, recent years have seen an expansion of focus into numerous disease and health topics such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, pulmonary disease, cognitive decline, depression, arthritis, chronic kidney disease, and lifecourse epidemiology. Faculty use numerous cutting-edge methods in study design, measurement, implementation, and analysis to better understand the etiology of heath and disease; division members are currently involved in observational studies utilizing social epidemiology methods, complex statistical modelling, multiple types of –omics measurement, insurance claim and EHR data, and tech-enabled assessment of physical activity and diet to name just a few methods and techniques. Division faculty also develop innovative prevention efforts for individuals and groups at high risk for developing certain chronic diseases and rigorously assess these efforts in trials using refined statistical and epidemiological methods.
The division educates and trains pre- and postdoctoral students, university faculty and community members to use epidemiology, biostatistics and bioinformatics methods to apply and translate research findings.
The NHLBI CVD training grant is a full-time, NHLBI-funded T32 postdoctoral research training program in cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention based in the division of epidemiology.
In addition to the CVD training grant, our faculty supports training in epidemiology through independent studies and by teaching in several Northwestern degree programs.
- TheMaster of Science in Biostatistics is a four-quarter (July 1 through mid-June) program training postdoctoral and predoctoral scientists to apply current methods of epidemiology and biostatistics to conduct research on a range of health problems facing the population.
- TheMasters of Public Health Program offers an accredited master’s degree in public health to full-time (accelerated), part time and joint-degree students and offers a specific concentration in epidemiology.
- TheMasters of Science in Clinical Investigation program is a part-time evening program primarily for medical residents, fellows and junior faculty members who wish to receive formal training in clinical research.
Meet Our Team
Norrina Bai Allen
Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine (Epidemiology) and Pediatrics
Dr. Allen specializes in cardiovascular epidemiology with a focus on health services research. Her research interests include the effect of neighborhood and environment on cardiovascular disease, disparities in quality of care and outcomes as well as the use of large databases to examine these questions.
Elizabeth A Hibler
Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine (Epidemiology) and Preventive Medicine (Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention)
Dr. Hibler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. She is a molecular epidemiologist conducting research focused on the relationship between diet, physical activity, and genetic/epigenetic factors in the etiology and prevention of cancer. She has a background studying vitamin D metabolites and colorectal neoplasia. Dr. Hibler is currently conducting studies related to physical activity and DNA methylation of gene loci associated with breast and colon cancer risk. In the future, her goal is to evaluate the influence of physical activity and dietary interventions on epigenetic variation among individuals at high-risk for cancer.
Mark D Huffman
Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine (Epidemiology) and Medicine (Cardiology)
I am excited to serve as the director of newly created Center for Global Cardiovascular Health within the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern. Through this center, we will work across the spectrum of prevention to improve global cardiovascular health and health care. Building off of prior work on acute cardiovascular care in India, my team and I are working on blood pressure lowering studies testing a new 4-drug, quarter-dose combination in Chicago, food system surveillance in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health and Label Insight via FoodSwitch, large-scale hypertension program implementation in Nigeria in partnership with University of Abuja and Resolve to Save Lives, essential medicines, and global cardiovascular health research training. I have also been selected as a National Academy of Medicine Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine and will start my 3-year term in July 2019.
Kiarri N Kershaw
Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine (Epidemiology)
I am a social epidemiologist, and my work focuses on understanding the contributions of the social environment to cardiovascular health and health disparities. I have done a lot of research to date using secondary data to examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of racial/ethnic residential segregation with obesity and cardiovascular disease. More recently I have begun to explore the health impacts of two strategies for addressing the negative impact of segregation on health: 1) providing individuals with opportunities to move to neighborhoods with more health-promoting resources and 2) improving access to resources in segregated neighborhoods. My research investigating the first strategy currently involves the examination of changes in segregation exposure and health within individuals over time using existing data sources. My research exploring the second strategy seeks to use primary data collection and simulation modeling to understand whether and how modifying the food environment influences eating behaviors and obesity.