Research Centers

Department Centers

The Department of Epidemiology is home to a variety of vibrant centers that encourage intellectual engagement in the form of interdisciplinary and collaborative research.

As a multi-disciplinary research center, the Center for Midlife Science contributes to the vibrant research community at the School of Public Health and the University of Michigan by connecting researchers from across the school, university, and health system, and provides research opportunities for SPH masters and doctoral students.  The Center for Midlife Science focuses on the etiology of chronic diseases, whose onset frequently begins in the midlife, and their prevention.

With the goal of improving health and enhancing function across the lifespan, the Midlife Center's research emphasizes the under-studied midlife years. Midlife is identified as approximately the ages 40 to 65 years - after family formation but before retirement.

Through two cohort research studies, the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) and the Michigan Bone Health & Metabolism Study (MBHMS – study participants are the daughters of the participants of the pioneering Tecumseh Community Health Study) and their respective bio-repositories (nearly 1.8 million biospecimens including serum, plasma, urine, and DNA), the Midlife Center continues and expands upon research begun decades ago by Dr. Thomas Francis, Jr. and advanced by Dr. MaryFran Sowers.

The Center recently initiated a new cohort study, the Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance (MiLES) Longitudinal Cohort and Biobank, in collaboration with Rheumatology.  The Center's work is further enhanced through the recent linkage with Dr. Sharon Kardia's genetics research program, and to the M-LEEaD environmental research center both of which are based in the School of Public Health.

Collaborating departments and institutes include Environmental Health Sciences, Biostatistics, Nutritional Sciences, Kinesiology, Nursing, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Cardiology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Radiology, Ophthalmology, and the Institute for Social Research.

The Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health (CSEPH) aims to promote research and training on the causes of health inequalities and the policies and interventions necessary to eliminate these inequalities, both in the United States and globally. Our approach is integrative and multilevel and draws from a broad range of methodological approaches and disciplines. Our goal is to integrate factors operating at multiple levels (ranging from society to genes) and over the lifecourse in order to increase understanding of the determinants of population health and health inequalities and promote more effective action to improve population health.

The purpose of the center for Molecular and Clinical Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (MAC-EPID) is to foster research and teaching focused on the transmission, pathogenesis and evolution of infectious diseases and their causative agents, enhance existing ties with the University of Michigan Health Care System, Wayne State University Division of Infectious Diseases and the Veteran's Administration Hospital, and attract faculty, students and research support.  MAC-EPID is sponsored by the School of Public Health.

The goals of MAC-EPID are to:

  • Develop new tools for understanding the transmission, pathogenesis, ecology and evolution of infectious diseases and their causative agents
  • Develop new strategies for detection, prevention, and treatment of infectious diseases
  • Provide a forum for the presentation of these new tools and strategies
  • Train students in the many scientific areas related to the transmission, pathogenesis and evolution of infectious diseases
  • Support innovative, interdisciplinary research projects
  • Be a valuable resource for the scientific and general community by bringing science from the bench to the community

The Michigan Center for Respiratory Virus Research and Response brings together a group of scientists working on elements leading to the understanding of the spread, clinical characteristics and impact of respiratory infections with the goal of prevention and control. The work now mainly focuses on influenza and Covid-19, but involves other viral respiratory diseases as well, using laboratory and analytic tools to develop and evaluate new and existing response strategies. Our work is based in the Department of Epidemiology, with collaborations and affiliated faculty across the Schools of Public Health and Medicine. Center scientists have a history of leadership in pandemic response and this continues to be true in the current Covid-19 pandemic.

History of the Center: The Michigan Center for Respiratory Virus Research and Response is relatively new, but continuous work on the topic goes back many years in the Department of Epidemiology. Current activities have their original foundations in population-based studies on the efficacy of different influenza vaccines conducted at various Michigan universities and evaluation of the effect of influenza antivirals on prevention, treatment and transmission of infection and disease. This work has evolved into on-going evaluations of influenza vaccine effectiveness in prevention of hospitalizations, medically attended illnesses and illnesses in the household. For the latter evaluation, the Household Influenza Vaccine Evaluation (HIVE) study was developed over 10 years ago, modeled on the classic Tecumseh Study. There, the totality of respiratory infections could be monitored in a setting involving interaction and transmission of different viruses. 

Current Initiatives: The HIVE study, and other related community cohorts based in the center, remains a major focus of the center’s work. It is now in its eleventh year, making it one of the longest existing longitudinal studies of a population group, allowing for the in depth study of repeat infections, vaccination and immunity. While Covid-19 now is a principal focus in addition to influenza, there has also been ongoing work on other viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus, rhinoviruses and seasonal coronaviruses. Our work draws on advances in genomics and mathematical modeling to understand virus transmission and vaccine effectiveness.

University Centers

The Department of Epidemiology faculty serve as leaders of a variety of research centers at The University of Michigan, leading efforts in interdisciplinary research and training.