Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology
Topics covered: biomarkers, study designs in molecular epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, mendelian randomization, big data / omics
Biomarker profiles that can be used in molecular epidemiology can range from just a few targeted markers to a whole metabolome, and may include the measurement of (epi)genetic variation, gene expression, proteins, small molecules, and functional assays. Epidemiology has been proven valuable to identify associations between exposure and disease, in particular because it enables us to study long-term effects of ‘normal’ variation in exposure in populations. However, traditional epidemiology does so without obtaining information of the biological processes that underlie these associations. Molecular and genetic epidemiology have the power to open up this ‘black box’. It will not only enhance the measurement of exposure, effect, and susceptibility, it will also give insight in complex biological mechanisms, and generate novel hypotheses about disease mechanisms. In this module, students will be familiarized with the different types of molecular biomarkers that can be used in epidemiological studies, including those measured with novel high-throughput –omics technologies. They will learn the pros and cons of different study designs used in molecular and genetic epidemiology, including Mendelian randomization.
Assessment: attendance and active participation, written exam