In this article, the authors discuss current challenges and opportunities in epidemiology that will affect the field's future. Epidemiology is commonly considered the methodologic backbone for the fields of public health and outcomes research because its practitioners describe patterns of disease occurrence, identify risk factors and etiologic determinants, and demonstrate the usefulness of interventions. Like most aspects of science, epidemiology is in rapid flux. Several factors that are influencing and will continue to influence epidemiology and the health of the public include factors fundamental to framing the discipline of epidemiology (i.e., its means of communication, its methodologies, its access to data, its values, its population perspective), factors relating to scientific advances (e.g., genomics, comparative effectiveness in therapeutics), and factors shaping human health (e.g., increasing globalism, the environment, disease and lifestyle, demographics, infectious disease).
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