A new masters program in global infectious disease is set to launch in fall 2019. The program intends to bridge the gap between the science of infectious diseases and its public policy implications, according to the program’s website.
“Better integrating emerging infectious disease science concepts into political and social problem solving is a serious challenge that must be met,” the program website says. “Of equal importance is the growing appreciation that infectious disease scientists must become more ‘policy literate’ if they are to contribute more effectively.”
In 2016, infectious diseases were five of the top 10 causes of death in low-income countries and three out of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
The program will be divided into two concentrations: science policy and infectious disease modeling. Prospective students apply directly to each concentration. Though the concentrations have different core curricula, they will both require a foundational knowledge of science and math and will overlap in coursework.
Interdisciplinary analysis is crucial to finding effective solutions to disease outbreaks, according to Steven Singer, a biology professor who will co-direct the program.
“Real solutions often arise out of bringing multidisciplinary perspective to a problem,” Singer said in an interview with The Hoya. “Understanding the biology and chemistry of the pathogen and the host interaction is important for developing the right interventions.”
Within the policy concentration, students will focus on on international, economic and security policy as they relate to infectious disease and global health.
The modeling concentration will focus on data analysis and effectively utilizing data. It will be the only masters-level program in the United States to deal specifically with infectious disease modeling, according to the program’s website.
The new program comes after the university board of directors approved the creation of a masters program in bioinformatics, another field of study that uses computational tools to tackle scientific questions, in February.
The Center for Global Health Science and Security, a research center dedicated to studying public health emergencies established in 2016, also currently offers a doctorate program in global infectious disease. The addition of a masters program will better prepare students from undergraduate programs in global health for the workforce and bridge the gap between undergraduate and doctoral studies, according to Singer.
The program specifically intends to cultivate an expertise directly applicable to students’ professional careers, according to Rebecca Katz, who will be co-director of the program and currently serves as director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security.
“This is master’s level training that will provide a discrete set of skills that can be taken into the work world,” Katz said in an interview published by Georgetown’s Global Health Initiative, which fosters collaboration between students and faculty members to help address health challenges in the world.
The program plans to accept approximately 10 students in its inaugural class and intends to expand to an average class size of 30 to 40 graduate students, according to Singer.
Program Director Felice Apter said she is eager for the first class of students in the new masters program to arrive on campus in the fall, now that the first round of applications closed Monday.
“As the director of the program, I very much look forward to welcoming our inaugural students with a great set of orientation activities to introduce them to Georgetown and to encourage a close-knit student community,” Apter said in an interview published by the Global Health Initiative.