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With this graduation program, we plan to open a new path in the qualification of graduate students in epidemiology in Germany. Large epidemiological studies which have been set up or are newly established and which are carried out with different topics and designs in different populations will be used as common platforms for graduation projects of several research teams in interdisciplinary cooperation.

Examples are two ongoing prospective cohort studies in South Germany with approximately 25.000 participants of middle age and 14.000 participants of higher age, one retrospective cohort study with about 50.000 migrants from East European countries, one population-based case-control-study for colorectal carcinoma as well as a "Demographic Surveillance System", a prospective survey instrument with a total population of 60.000 individuals.

Thus, the graduate students can pass through and learn all steps of different study types in the field of descriptive and analytical epidemiology in a research-oriented study program including study implementation, field study, various laboratory techniques, statistical-epidemiological evaluation, scientific summary and publication of the results.

The aim is to achieve an integration of different methods and application fields of epidemiological research areas of infectious and non-infectious diseases that are traditionally separated from each other in different school and research teams. Thus, the research and study program takes the recognition into account that there are various interactions between these both research areas.

Epidemiological research is traditionally carried out in two almost totally separated research areas which are working with different research methods. These two research areas can be characterized as "epidemiology of infectious diseases" and "epidemiology of non-infectious diseases". For example, the latter research area includes the epidemiology of cardiovascular diseases and cancer epidemiology. Taking these two examples, one can very well elucidate the various correlations between the two areas. Several infectious agents could be identified as factor or even as precondition for different types of cancer. Helicobacter pylori inducing stomach cancer, papilloma viruses inducing cervical cancer and hepatitis viruses inducing liver cancer can be used as examples. Furthermore the factor of infectious agents for cardiovascular diseases is widely discussed at present. In this graduate program we try to combine these two areas by focussing several projects on this connection.

While some of the projects are primarily focussing on non-infectious causes of chronic diseases (research focus on cancer diseases, especially colorectal carcinomas) and other projects are focussing exclusively and partly on infectious diseases, about one third of the projects are primarily dealing with the research of the correlation between infectious diseases and the diseases that were traditionally classified as non-infectious diseases.

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