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Department of Public Health Sciences


The Department research portfolio is diverse and collaborative. Our research strategic plan aligns well with those of the College of Medicine. Many of the biostatistics, epidemiology, and behavioral/social sciences research foci are in or applied to the areas of neuroscience, cancer, diabetes, rheumatology, and psychiatry. In addition to the inter-Departmental and inter-College partnerships in research, we have strong intra-Departmental, interdisciplinary collaboration. Please visit the website of each of the faculty members for his/her research areas.

Biostatistics Research

In the area of biostatistical methods development, there is a focus on a variety of areas. Innovative clinical trials designs, such as ones for acute stroke therapeutic trials as well as for early stage cancer trials, and randomized allocation strategies are being developed by the biostatistics faculty in the Data Coordination Unit and the Biostatistics Shared Resources for the Hollings Cancer Center.; Multivariate analysiswith an emphasis on large predictor variable selection and the use of random forests to make selections is a focus of Dr. Wolf’s research. Dr. Gebregziabher‘s research is in longitudinal analysis, in particular, the issue of missingness in such studies. One theme is modeling of informative missingness, where the missingness mechanism must be modeled as well as the longitudinal outcome. Neuroimaging and methods to deal with spatial information in fMRI and missingness in images are also active research areas. Spatial analyses of small area health data, including disease mapping, disease clustering and spatial surveillance of epidemiological data, are  the research areas of Dr. Lawson. Bayesian hierarchical modeling for spatio-temporal data, especially  the development of latent structure models. And extensions to the modeling of spatially-referenced survival data analysis are also an Dr. Lawson’s expertise.  Finally, faculty members engaged in a variety of collaborative projects through the Collaborative Unit projects are exploring varied statistical issues arising from many of these studies.


Epidemiology Research

The epidemiology faculty is engaged in surveillance and etiologic research applied to a broad range of health outcomes that includes aging, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, infectious disease, injury/trauma, neurological disorders, oral health, tobacco and other substance use, and perinatal/reproductive conditions.  A cross-cutting theme in common to much of this research is a focus on health disparities.  The goal of this novel, independent research is to improve clinical care and advance population health.  Further, the faculty is actively engaged in translating knowledge into public health practice through their involvement in a wide range of local, state, and national public health surveillance and disease control activities.  In addition to conducting their own investigator-initiated research, epidemiology faculty members are a strong asset to collaborative team science through their collaboration with basic, clinical, and population scientists across the MUSC campus and beyond on research to push the frontiers of biomedical research and public health science.

Enivronmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) 

Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) is a seven year national research initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine what factors give children the highest likelihood of achieving the best health outcomes over their lifetimes. MUSC will serve as a coordinating center for part of the project known as the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Fetal Growth Study.  Dr. Vena is leading the MUSC site as Principal Investigator.

Epilepsy Research

Dr. Selassie has submitted the final Technical Report for his research grant, Risk Factors of Epilepsy Outcomes:  Comorbidities in Population with Epilepsy in South Carolina. The final report can be found on the MUSC Epilepsy Foundations webpage:


Health Behavior and Health Services Research

Behavioral Sciences:

Research on behavioral and social processes involves the study of human functioning at the level of the individual, small group, institution, organization, community, or population. Foci include behavioral and social research on health risk behaviors, the development of a behavioral sciences knowledge base, and the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of interventions to prevent  and reduce disease incidence, mortality and morbidity.

Health Services Research

The arena of Health Services Research is a multidisciplinary field of scientific inquiry. Health Services Research investigators study how individual behaviors of patients and health services providers, social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and public policy affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately individual and community health and well-being.


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