Certificate in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology

The variety and amount of genetic and molecular data generated by novel laboratory techniques continues to accelerate, and these data are increasingly integrated into epidemiologic research. The Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology (GME) certificate program at Rollins prepares students to assess, manage, and analyze these data in the context of scientific and public health utilities.

Through coursework, an applied practice experience, and an integrative learning experience, GME students will gain mastery of study design, data analysis, and interpretation of results pertaining to the use of genetic and molecular data in research and public health programming.

1. Describe how knowledge of the genetic and molecular basis for human diseases can be applied in public health research and practice. Describe the importance of genetic epidemiology and molecular epidemiology to public health.

2. Identify key principles and methods for biological sample collection, including informed consent, sample handling, and biobanking (e.g., chain of custody, quality assurance, use of samples and data).

3. Describe how genetic and molecular data are generated, including basic knowledge of current laboratory technologies. Describe the latest technologies in molecular and genomic data generation used to investigate disease, pathogenesis, and normal variation of traits. Identify potential sources of error and bias from technical and biological artifacts.

4. Recognize how molecular biology, biomarkers, and genetics can be incorporated into the design, analysis, and interpretation of epidemiological studies, including integration of findings from other genetic/molecular studies.

a. Describe the major genetic epidemiologic research study designs and their advantages and limitations. Apply knowledge of inheritance to understanding the genetic architecture of diseases and health conditions.

b. Describe the major molecular epidemiologic research study designs and their advantages and limitations.

5. Justify the roles of: epidemiologists, clinicians, basic scientists, bioinformaticians, and statisticians in the design, analysis, and interpretation of epidemiological studies that incorporate genetic and molecular data.

6. Describe the ways that genetic and molecular tests are currently deployed in public health practice (e.g., blood lipids screening, illicit drug and alcohol screening, foodborne outbreak investigations, influenza vaccination targeting, blood lead screening, genetic screening of newborn and prenatal genetic testing, precision targeting of tumor biomarkers, BRCA1 sequencing, microarray testing in intellectual disability, disease transmission modeling).

7. Interpret and critique published epidemiologic research studies that include genetic and molecular data, including the design and analysis of validation studies (for biomarkers) and/or replication studies (for genetic association studies). Demonstrate the ability to explain, both orally and in writing, the findings and implications of molecular and genetic epidemiologic studies.

8. Describe the legal, ethical, and social issues that may be associated with the collection and application of genetic and genomic information and molecular biomarkers.

9. Gain experience managing and analyzing genetic and molecular data. 

Classes (9 credits total):


Class Number

Class Name

Credit Hours


EPI 510

Introduction to Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology


Fall, Year 1

Core Courses 

Class Number

Class Name 

Credit Hours


EPI 547

Public Health Applications of Molecular Epidemiology I



EPI 552

Human Genome Epidemiology



GME Electives (four credits total)*  

Please click on the following link to see a complete list of Approved Elective Courses that will apply to the GME certificate.

Certificate courses cannot also be used to meet the core course requirements of the student's degree program.

*Other courses may also be appropriate with special permission of the certificate director.

Applied Practice Experience (0 credits): The student’s Applied Practice Experience should be relevant to genetic or molecular epidemiology and will be approved by the certificate director.

Thesis or Capstone Project (3 - 4 credits): The thesis project or integrative learning experience should include relevance to genetic or molecular epidemiology, and ideally will include analysis or manipulation of genetic or molecular data. Students are likely to work with one of the core GME faculty on their thesis/capstone as an advisor or co-advisor. Students intending to get a GME certificate must have their concept paper or other initial proposal approved by the certificate director.

Field Experiences: Field experiences are not required but attendance is encouraged. These are designed to show students the data-generating machines, data processing, and use of genetic and molecular data in public health practice in situ. Field experiences may include a tour of the Georgia Department of Public Health lab on Clairmont Road, a tour of the Emory Genetics lab and/or the Emory Integrated Genomics Core lab, and a tour of a lab at the CDC.

All Rollins MPH and MSPH students are eligible for this certificate. Students who are interested in the GME certificate should enroll for the pre-requisite 1-credit seminar course, EPI 510: Introduction to Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, in their first fall semester.  Students may apply for the certificate from August 15 – September 15, and will be notified of acceptance by September 30.  Please complete thd application below.

Application Form

Applied Practice Experience

Students must submit a completed APE worksheet or a 1-2 paragraph description of their proposed practicum to the Program Directors. Students are responsible for gaining certificate practicum approval prior to starting the practicum experience.

Thesis/capstone (ILE)

Students must submit a thesis/capstone proposal (if required for their program) or a 1-2 paragraph description of their intended project to the Program Directors. The description should minimally include the proposed research question, data source, and analytic plan. Students are encouraged to submit the proposal for certificate thesis/capstone approval as soon as they have identified a project. Students are responsible for gaining certificate approval before starting their thesis/capstone.

Please note: the Epidemiology Capstone will not apply to the GME Certificate.  If you are an Epidemiology student, you must complete a thesis. 

Certificate clearance

Students records will be reviewed for certificate completion bythe following deadlines:

Spring Graduation April 1st
Summer Graduation July 1st
Fall Graduation December 1st

These faculty maintain research programs that are highly relevant to genetic and/or molecular epidemiology.

Epidemiology: M. Daniele FallinNeel Gandhi, Marta Gwinn, Anke Huels, Muin Khoury, Tim Lash, Michele Marcus, Lauren McCullough, Brad PearceYan Sun, Viola Vaccarino

Environmental Health: Dana Barr, William (Mike) Caudle, Todd EversonMatt Gribble, Donghai Liang, Carmen Marsit, Qiang Zhang

Biostatistics: Yijuan Hu, Zhaohui (Steve) Qin, Glen Satten, Michael Epstein, Karen Conneely, Jingjinag Yang

Global Health: Lisa Staimez, Jorge Vidal

Behavioral Sciences and Health Education: Yue GuanColleen McBride


For more information about the Certificate in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, please contact: 

Yan Sun, PhD
Program Director


Brenda L. Hardy, MS, CAS
Program Coordinator