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Department Profile: Epidemiology and Biostatistics

The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics is unlike other departments at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

With the absence of wet labs, the department may not seem as glamourous in comparison to others, but the fascinating computer-based world of epidemiology and biostatistics has a lot to offer. The discipline is crucial to understanding the health of our overall population.

With the recent appointment of Dr. Guanyong Zou as acting chair, the introduction of an undergraduate program, an update to computer infrastructure, and staffing developments, the department has been busy developing and evolving.

The department consists of 70 faculty members, 86 students and three talented staff members who manage the day-to-day tasks. Angela DeCandido, manager of administration and finance; Karen Monteith, academic program coordinator; and Kim McCready, part-time academic programs assistant can be found working behind the scenes in the Kresge Building.

“Although we may be considered small relative to other basic science departments, the team is equally as driven to achieve results for the people we serve,” said DeCandido. “We are a collegial, process-driven and efficient group.”

With the introduction of Canada’s first undergraduate program in epidemiology in September 2013, the department had to rethink their processes and work flow to accommodate for the different needs of undergraduate students.

“The introduction of the program was exciting, but with it came a learning curve,” said DeCandido, adding that is when when the role of Academic Programs Coordinator was conceived and McCready’s role was developed.

“We needed to absorb the workload of the undergraduate portfolio without losing focus on our communications and student outreach activities, which are key to raising our department profile," DeCandido explained. "Adding staffing power has allowed us to move beyond simply managing day-to-day operations. We are better-positioned to explore new opportunities and advance our strategic goals.”

The moments that stand out the most for DeCandido are the times that her team jumps in with an "all hands on deck" mentality when faced with complex tasks, such as producing graduate review briefs or external reports, and turn around an exceptional end product.

“We take pride in what we achieve as a team,” said DeCandido. “When we have been externally appraised, our reviewers have consistently been impressed with what we accomplish with so few people, and their compliments make the hard work worthwhile.”