Methods in Infectious Disease Epidemiology

EPI 253 Spring 2021 (2 or 3 units)
Course Director: Ali Mirzazadeh, PhD, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics


Throughout history, infectious diseases have played a prominent in human health, with the COVID-19 pandemic providing yet another example. This course will provide instruction in the application of general epidemiologic methods and communicable diseases-specific epidemiologic methods to the investigation of infectious diseases. Methods covered include those used in study of transmission of infectious agents; pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic prevention of transmission; and the etiology and control of outbreaks. A "One Health" approach, featuring the connection of human health to the health of animals and the shared environment, will be featured.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify key components of the epidemiology of infectious diseases, including epidemiological features of emerging infections, measures of transmission, and methods to control these diseases;
  • Analyze and apply information related to strategies for prevention and control of infectious diseases, including vaccines, pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions;
  • Identify epidemiologic methods used to evaluate public health intervention programs designed to control infectious diseases; and
  • Demonstrate specific knowledge on the human health connection to the health of animals and the shared environment.

Student may elect to take this course for 2 or 3 units. The 3 unit version requires the student to undertake an original project, either the creation of a research protocol or the analysis of data to address a specific research question.


Epidemiologic Methods (EPI 203). Exceptions to this prerequisite may be made with the consent of the Course Director, space permitting.

Course Director:

Ali Mirzazadeh, PhD, MD, MPH
Phone: 415-476-5821


Jonna Mazet, PhD


George Rutherford, MD


Travis Porco, PhD, MPH


Bryan Greenhouse, MD


Kala Marks Raz, MPH


Sarah Talarico, PhD


Michael Reid, MD


Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH


Each week, curricular material is introduced through required readings. After completing the reading, the class gathers for a two-hour session in which the first half is a course faculty-derived Lecture regarding the week's content and the second-half combines a) Student-directed Literature Discussion of an applied scientific report or paper and b) Review of Student Projects.

Content: Faculty synthesis of the week’s curriculum
Time: Wednesdays, 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM, beginning March 31. Video recording will be available later in the day.

Student-directed Literature Discussion
Content: Students, alone or in pairs, present and promote discussion of a weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) or Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) article to classmates
Time: Wednesdays, 11:40 AM to 12:30 PM, beginning on the 2nd week of the course

Review of Student Projects
Content: Course faculty and assigned student reviewers provide structured critique of student projects
Time: Wednesdays, 11:40 AM to 12:30 PM, beginning on the 3rd week of the course


Infectious Disease Epidemiology: Theory and Practice by K. Nelson and C. Williams. Jones & Bartlett Learning. 3rd edition. 2013. The eBook is available through the UCSF library .

All other course materials and handouts will be posted on the course's syllabus.


Grades will be based on the evaluation of the following products and activities:

For students in the 2-unit version:
  • Student-Directed Literature Discussion (60%): Performance in summarizing and facilitating discussion with classmates regarding a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) or Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) article.
  • Engagement (40%): Participation in lecture, Student-Directed Literature Discussion sessions, and Review of Student Projects sessions.

For students in the 3-unit version:
  • Student project (50%): Students may either a) perform an analysis of data related to infectious disease or b) assemble a 5-page research protocol related to an unanswered question in infectious disease. Grades will be based upon performance on different installments of the project (concept note submission and 3 subsequent sections) as well as the final product. Students may work alone or in a group.
  • Student-Directed Literature Discussion (30%)
  • Engagement (20%)


This course is sponsored by the Training in Clinical Research (TICR) Program, and space is limited. Preference is given to UCSF-affiliated personnel. We regret that auditing in the classroom is not permitted, but most of the course materials (with the exception of videotapes, answer keys, examinations, and copyrighted documents) are freely available (without formal enrollment) on the course’s syllabus. Many students can glean the majority of the course’s content from this free access, but, importantly, formal enrollment also provides access to faculty for questions and individual-level extension of the curriculum, a community of other engaged students for in-person real-time discussion, and personalized correction and feedback on homework and projects.

To enroll in this course, please fill out and submit the application below. Please see our fees page for cost information. The deadline for application is March 19, 2021. Only one application needs to be completed for all courses desired during the quarter.

The application is best completed using the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

APPLICATION Information for how to pay;
please read before applying