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Infectious Disease in Public Health

Welcome to the Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Group in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.

We have experience in the biological, behavioral, and social aspects of infection and diseases, with work in social epidemiology and geospatial analysis of infection in urban and other regions, classic studies to unravel pathogenesis (biological path from infection to disease), identification of risk factors for acquiring infection, and predictive modeling of infection incidence that combines knowledge in all of these areas of enquiry.

We are diverse group with interests that range from COVID-19, to healthcare associated infection (C. diff), to HIV and STI prevention, to neglected tropical diseases, to the natural history of chronic viral infections, to evaluation of vaccine efficacy and vaccine preventable diseases, to HIV clinical trials.

We hope that we can excite you about the world of infectious agents—the etiology, modeling of incidence, and intervention design/strategies.

What is Infectious Disease?

Infectious Disease is the study of human and animal diseases caused by microorganisms. Students studying infectious disease take courses in areas such as microbiology, epidemiology, health surveillance and patient safety.

Why Study Infectious Disease at Dornsife?

Drexel Dornsife's award-winning faculty conduct infectious disease research in communities across the United States and the world. They teach infectious disease through principles and practice.

Today's critical need to understand infectious disease is translating into career opportunities for public health professionals. Data shows that "40% of infection preventionists are expected to retire in the next five to 10 years," according to Sarah Smathers, MPH, CIC, FAPIC, adjunct professor and co-director of Dornsife's Certificate in the Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control.

A career in Infectious Disease means "you’re always learning. You never know everything there is to know in this field. And just when you think you do, there’s a new pathogen to learn about," Smathers told Infection Control Today about her work at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Learn more about the future of careers in infectious disease and opportunities at Drexel Dornsife.

Infectious Disease Programs

Master's in Infection Prevention and Control

New! This fully online Master of Science (MS) in Infection Prevention and Control prepares students for leadership positions in the fast-growing field of infectious disease.

Certificate in Infectious Disease Prevention and Control

The fully online Certificate in Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, designed for working professionals, focuses on fundamental content in infectious disease, epidemiology and surveillance, and patient safety. Credits from this certificate can then be rolled into the MS degree.

Infectious Disease and Population Health Minor

The Infectious Disease and Population Health Minor is intended to prepare students to work in the field of infectious disease prevention and control in public health, health care, and other nonprofit settings. It is open to all Drexel graduate students in all schools and colleges.

“The Infectious Disease minor prepared me and allowed me to jump right into my position. Compared to another colleague who started around the same time, I really feel like the courses from the I minor gave me an edge. Dr. Chernak’s Microbes class and textbooks have been a huge resource for me. I also think Professor Smather’s class was a huge help since she covered a lot of the NHSN definitions and caveats through the exercises we worked on in her class.”

-- Dornsife alum Claire Lichius, MPH, Infection Preventionist at UPMC in Pittsburgh, PA

Core Faculty in Infectious Disease

Joseph Amon, PhD, MSPH

Joseph Amon

Joseph Amon is the Director of the Office of Global Health. He has conducted research on how (and why) specific populations, and diseases, are neglected, and on the impact of political determinants, such as laws, and their enforcement, on health.

Infectious disease research interests: The role of civil society and the response to infectious disease outbreaks and environmental health threats

Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, FACP

 Esther Chernak

Ester Chernak is the director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication (CPHRC) at Dornsife and co-director of Dornsife's Certificate in the Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control.

Her work focuses on initiatives that enhance public health and health care capacity at the local and state level, improve the preparedness of at-risk communities, build community resilience through partnerships between public health and community health care and social service organizations, and facilitate emergency risk communication.

Infectious disease research interests: Emergency preparedness

Alison Evans, ScD

 Alison Evans

Alison Evans’ research focus is in chronic viral infections, especially hepatitis B virus, and associated cancers.

She has conducted research in the US, China, and Senegal in the effort to identify modifiable risk factors and interventions for these conditions.

Infectious disease research interests: Chronic viral infections, especially Hepatitis B

Neal D. Goldstein, PhD, MBI

Neal D. Goldstein

With a background in biomedical informatics, Neal Goldstein focuses on computational approaches in complex data settings to understand infectious disease transmission among vulnerable populations including children and sexual and gender minorities. This has been demonstrated through his work in HIV, healthcare associated infections, and vaccination and vaccine-preventable diseases.

Infectious disease research interests: Computational approaches to understand infectious disease transmission among vulnerable populations

Michael LeVasseur, PhD, MPH

 Michael LeVasseur

Micheal LeVasseur's primary area of research in epidemiology is in HIV and health disparities among sexual and gender minority populations.

He is also interested in the intersections of data science and public health.

Infectious disease research interests: HIV, health disparities among sexual and gender minority populations.

Thersa Sweet, PhD, MPH

Thersa Sweet

Thersa Sweet’s work prior to joining Dornsife was primarily in virology, molecular biology, and cancer biology. Since arriving at Dornsife, she has been involved in epidemiologic studies involving HIV risk in sexual minorities.

She has conducted analyses to identify increased rates of adverse mental health conditions among MSM who have been sexually abused as children—and linking these mediators to incident HIV infection or other STIs in MSM study participants.

Infectious disease research interests: Infectious disease epidemiology, virology, molecular epidemiology, HIV risk in sexual minorities

Seth Welles, PhD, ScD

Seth Welles

Seth Welles conducts research and mentors students in studies of infection and chronic disease, including viral carcinogenesis and HIV/AIDS.

His earliest epidemiologic work was focused on studies of immune suppression and adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma caused by the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I).

Infectious disease research interests: Viral carcinogenesis, HIV/AIDS, HIV/STI prevention studies, epidemiologic methods concerning measuring communicable disease risk and outcomes.

Infectious Disease Faculty in the News

Experts in Dornsife's Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Group are routinely called upon by the media to offer commentary and analysis on infectious diseases, particularly on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For example, Neal D. Goldstein, PhD, assistant research professor, and Michael LeVasseur, PhD, assistant teaching professor, authored a guest post for the Drexel News Blog, The Pandemic Will End, but We’re Probably Stuck With the Coronavirus. And LeVasseur was recognized by New York State for his efforts to address the COVID crisis by providing government officials with analyses and forecasts of the pandemic. More news articles are linked to below.

Contact Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Group

Seth Welles, PhD, ScD
Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics