Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases


At the end of this course students should be able to:
1. Explain what molecular epidemiology is.
2. Interpret epidemiological methods used in molecular epidemiology studies.
3. Discuss the development and use of biomarkers.
4. Choose and apply molecular typing methods taking into account the objectives and organisms of the study.
5. Use and interpret analysis methods, such as phylogenetics, population genetics and bioinformatics methods.
6. Interpret geographic studies of infectious and parasitic agents.
7. Describe methodologies used to elucidate patterns of pathogenesis.
8. Explain what the main steps in molecular studies of transmission are.
9. Explain how to investigate the presence of a causal link between a disease with no known aetiology and the presence of a pathogen.
10. Discuss how to investigate vaccination and treatment failures.
11. Explain how to distinguish recrudescence from reinfection.
12. Describe recent and developing methodologies in the future of molecular epidemiology.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Isabel Maurício


Weekly - 13,5

Total - 40

Teaching language



Attendance of 2/3 of classes is mandatory


• Carrington and Hoelzel eds (2001) Molecular Epidemiology – practical approach. Oxford University Press.
• Riley, L Ed (2004) Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases. Principles and Practices. ASM Press.
• Barrett JH, Sheehan NA, Cox A, Worthington J, Cannings C, Teare MD. (2007) Family based studies and genetic epidemiology: theory and practice. Hum Hered. 64(2):146-8.
• Paustenbach D, Galbraith D. (2006) Biomonitoring and biomarkers: exposure assessment will never be the same. Environ Health Perspect. 114(8):1143-9.
• Tenover FC, Arbeit RD, Goering RV. (1997) How to select and interpret molecular strain typing methods for epidemiological studies of bacterial infections: a review for healthcare epidemiologists. Molecular Typing Working Group of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 18(6):426-39.

Teaching method

This CU will include lectures and theoretical/practical sessions. Learning will be supported by formative assessment, based an initial draft of a written assay based on three research articles, which will receive feedback from teachers and other students.

Evaluation method

The summative assessment will be based in a final version of the written assay.

Subject matter

I. Contribution of molecular biology to answer epidemiological questions.
II. Genetic characterization of pathogen populations: genotyping methods, development and validation.
III. Development and use of biomarkers for exposure assessment.
IV. Phylogenetic, population genetics and bioinformatics
V. Geographical studies.
VI. Studies on infectious and parasitic disease pathology.
VII. Studies on transmission of infectious and parasitic diseases, including vectors, intermediate hosts, models.
VIII. Applications in surveillance and control of infectious and parasitic diseases.
IX. Practical and historical applications of molecular epidemiology.


Programs where the course is taught: