Health Sciences


Clinical Epidemiology

Clinical Epidemiology is empirical and patient oriented and involves diagnostic, prognostic, prevention and intervention studies. 

Within Clinical Epidemiology a quantitative approach is used to address medical problems with the objective of using the best-available evidence to guide patient management. The ultimate goal is to improve patient outcomes. Important aspects considered in the specialization Clinical Epidemiology include appraisal of bias in published clinical studies, the design of clinical studies, analysis of data from clinical studies, diagnostic and prognostic prediction, evaluating preventive and therapeutic interventions, and the translation of research findings to clinical practice. Results from clinical epidemiological research are used in patient management and health policy decisions.


Epidemiology studies the incidence, causes, consequences and control of disease, as well as people, patients and populations.

Epidemiology plays an integral role in the application of medical research to populations, interacting with almost every other specialism.

Epidemiology studies the incidence, causes, consequences and control of disease, as well as people, patients and populations. It is a fundamental discipline for clinical medicine and public health. It may, together with basic science and clinical research, provide tools to learn about the etiology and consequences of diseases, the possibilities for prevention and treatment and the risk profiles of individuals and populations. Using advanced methods such as statistical analyses, field research and complex laboratory techniques, epidemiologists map various elements of a disease and the ways they are related.

The objective of the epidemiology programme is to prepare candidates for a research position (e.g. a PhD project) in the area of clinical medicine or public health, or for example a more health policy oriented career. The programme comprises compulsory courses directed at study design, biostatistics, and data analysis. In addition, further specialization in specific areas of epidemiological research is needed. Extensive training in widely used statistical packages is also an important part of the curriculum. A large part of the programme is devoted to research.

Genetic & Molecular Epidemiology

The major thrust of research in genetic & molecular epidemiology in the next ten years will be the identification of predisposing genes in complex diseases and the environmental factors. This may ultimately lead to a more targeted surveillance and improved clinical care.

Genetic & molecular epidemiology focuses on the uses of genetic, molecular and epidemiological research in identifying the possible familial and hereditary factors underlying the origins and manifestations of human disease. The cause of most chronic diseases -including cancer, coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension, and psychiatric disorders- may lie in the interactions between environmental factors and genetic susceptibility. Genetic & molecular epidemiology helps optimize etiological studies through an integrated approach that draws on the methodologies of epidemiology, biostatistics, genetics and molecular biology.

The objective of the genetic & molecular epidemiology programme is to prepare candidates for epidemiological research in the areas of genetic determinants of diseases and of genetic risk assessment and seeks to train candidates in these specific fields or to prepare them for an executive/advisory positions in the area of public health, or health-policy. The genetic & molecular epidemiology programme is a mix of general subjects, such as study design and statistical data-analysis, and subjects tailored with specific genetic & molecular epidemiology research and analytical methods.

Medical Psychology

Medical psychology is an academic field which is enjoying a new found appreciation in health sciences, one that takes a closer look into the interaction between psychological factors and health. For instance, how do physical complaints affect our psychological functioning? And also: why does our psychological make-up sometimes make us vulnerable to diseases, or prevent us from getting better? Students will constantly be confronted with thought-provoking research. Apart from studying these kinds of questions, medical psychologists also study doctor-patient communication and decision-making, and develop and evaluate psychological interventions for somatic complaints such as pain and fatigue. This allows for a more enriched understanding of these topics.

Health Decision Sciences

Health Decision Sciences uses a quantitative approach is used to address medical problems with the objective of making decisions in health care based on evidence and values. The level of decision-making considered ranges from clinical decisions to health policy decisions. We consider individualized patient decisions, decisions for groups of patients, decisions that are incorporated into clinical guidelines, policy decisions at a regional or national level, and decisions concerning the optimal use of health research funding. Topics studied in Health Decision Sciences include decision modelling, simulation modelling, diagnostic and prognostic prediction, expected value, value-based health care, comparative effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, health technology assessment, and value of information.


In recent years data that are collected in clinical research and public health have increased in volume and complexity. This enhanced even further by the scientific revolution in molecular biology and genetics, and its impact on health and the environment. In this context it is of paramount importance that data are analyzed with sound statistical techniques that respect their nature and adequately answer the scientific questions of interest. This has lead in an increased need for well-trained biostatisticians capable of handling the data analysis challenges of the modern era.

The aim of the NIHES Specialization in Biostatistics is to keep abreast of such evolutions and equip the future generation of researchers with modern and essential data science tools. This specialization will combine a solid study of modern statistical methodology with up-to-date information on topics such as study design, clinical trials, public health, longitudinal data analysis, survival analysis, causal inference, and tools for reproducible research. The courses are taught by an international faculty of world renowned statisticians and epidemiologists from the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States. These include among others, past and current Editors of flagship biostatistics journals, and past presidents of major international biostatistics societies.

The specialization is aimed at ambitious students with a relevant Bachelor degree with a strong motivation in data science for biomedical applications.

Public Health Epidemiology

Public health epidemiology is the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society.

Whereas clinicians and general practitioners provide care for individuals, public health interventions are directed at whole populations. Many improvements have resulted from successful public health initiatives: vaccination and other forms of infectious disease control, safer working environments, preventive mother and childcare, safer and healthier foods, family planning, improved traffic safety, and tobacco control. To achieve or preserve access to effective health care services in society, there is a considerable need for public health expertise.

The objective of the public health epidemiology programme is to prepare public health professionals to draw upon the knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines in order to define, evaluate, and resolve public health problems. Participants will be prepared for research and for positions at staff and executive levels. Topics included in the programme will be health promotion and health intervention, international health, health policy and management, and occupational and environmental health.