College of Public Health offers new concentration

Tyler Haughn

Public Health students looking to narrow their academic focus have a new concentration from which to choose.

Epidemiology professor Melissa Zullo created the clinical trials research to allow students to receive a sufficient amount of experience that can be used in their future medical careers.

“The new concentration is for students who are interested in health care research, conducting epidemiology studies or working on clinical trials,” Zullo said. “It is more focused on epidemiology methods than any of our other concentrations.”

Zullo said with this concentration, students learn how to use epidemiology methods in class and then can properly conduct research in a lab.

“It provides them with more methods training,” Zullo said. “The biggest thing that sets this concentration apart from the other is the training they get in clinical research methods. They get training in regulatory affairs (and) pharmaceutical epidemiology, and those are not things we have ever offered before.”

Students are required to perform six credit hours, or 300 regular hours, of internships in the concentration.

Mckenna Stephens, a senior public health major, said she believes the amount of internships she has had to complete is a very important aspect of the Clinical Trials Research concentration.

“I think having so many different options and having 300 hours of (an) internship will look great on a resume,” Stephens said.

Stephens is participating in internship researching alongside Zullo. They work with a randomized control trial of a desk cycle intervention that aims to reduce sedentary work behaviors, or a lack of physical activity, while people are working.

“For this intervention, I work with a team of students and researchers to develop the data collection instruments, the IRB application and consent forms and the database,” Stephens said.

Victoria Boon, a senior public health major with a clinical trials research concentration, said she thinks the concentration is important because it enables her to understand how drugs become available for use by the public.

“This course is relevant to the fact that clinical trials primarily deal with interventions of pharmaceutical drugs,” Boon said. “So, when patients are being tested on these drugs, the pharmaco-epidemiology aspect looks at how these drugs are affecting the body (and) the process these drugs need to go through in order to be on the market in the U.S.”

Zullo said the students participating in the concentration should get an adequate amount of training so that they are knowledgeable and can get jobs right away.

“We are really making sure they have the training so that they could go out and be successful and get a job right out of the door, as it is hard to get a job right out of undergraduate — especially if you don’t have an internship or some kind of practical experience,” Zullo said.

Tyler Haughn is the student health reporter, contact him at [email protected]