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  JULY 24, 2009
Loma Linda SPH Launches PhD in Epidemiology

Loma Linda University School of Public Health is beginning its first PhD program this summer. The new PhD in epidemiology has a heavier emphasis in research than the DrPH that the school also offers. The department of epidemiology and biostatistics designed the PhD for students who want to work in research and academia, as opposed to the practice of public health. The program stresses skills in research methods, study design, and scientific publishing.

"Many health professionals want these skills, but do not plan to change careers to public health. The PhD will be able to meet their needs," said Dr. Synnove Knutsen, chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics.

The department is now accepting applications for the PhD program. Additionally, some students previously accepted into the DrPH program will transfer into the PhD curriculum.

One of these is Dr. Dean Sherzai, a neurologist interested in the epidemiology of aging. He plans to apply for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants to research the pattern of cognitive aging (dementia) in a cohort of 100,000 Seventh-day Adventist Christians whom the School of Public Health is studying to better understand the interplay of lifestyle and health.

"Upon completing the PhD, I would like to continue with neuroepidemiology research and the influence of diet and lifestyle on cognitive aging," said Dr. Sherzai.

The PhD dissertation requires that the student submit to peer review three papers for consideration of publication, at least one of which must be published prior to graduation. Another feature of the PhD is that students take fewer public health core courses and more cognate courses from other departments. Students can choose from the following cognate areas: biostatistics, nutrition, geographic information systems (GIS), environmental health, global health, health education and health policy and management.