Since its founding in 1983 by Robert W. Haley, M.D., Epidemiology has focused on three disease categories:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Infectious diseases
- Nervous system diseases
Research in Infectious Disease Epidemiology originally focused on hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infections. Research later moved into studies of hepatitis C infection as well as developing responses to bioterrorist attacks and applying them at the local level through leadership in the Dallas County Medical Society. Recent investigations have focused on understanding epidemics of West Nile encephalitis.
Research in Neuroepidemiology has concentrated on investigating nervous system problems underlying Gulf War Illness in veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, and in recent years has led to extensive activities in brain imaging and laboratory investigations of neural mechanisms and genetic correlates, requiring specialized core facilities to support these activities.
Epidemiology has invested heavily in the development of novel research methods whenever the lack of suitable methods slowed progress toward research goals. In recent years methodologic innovation has been concentrated in developing and validating new MRI scanning procedures and new statistical theory and computer applications for brain imaging data, all focused on increasing the power to detect the most subtle differences in brain function between ill and well groups of subjects.