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Math modeling of infectious diseases?

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Posting this to the math and biology forums...

I recently graduated with a BS degree in Biological Sciences and minor in Mathematics in the USA. I am researching master's degree programs in a sort of combination of these fields: mathematical modelling of infectious diseases / infectious disease epidemiology. My interests are (very) broad at this initial research stage, but some of my research interests are bacterial or viral disease modeling, potentially HIV/tuberculosis, impacts of vaccines and retrovirals, global management and outbreaks, evolution of host-pathogen dynamics...

I have thought about an MPH program as well, but I'd like to be more research-oriented and am not sure if that would be the best fit.

This MSc in Modern Epidemiology program at Imperial College London looks like exactly what I want to study:


But funding sounds like it's very hard to come by in the UK and I don't have £28,500 laying around... so I thought I would try to find similar programs elsewhere.

Anyway - a few general questions:

1) Is a master's degree typically required before the PhD in this field?

2) Which schools have strong programs in my research areas? Some PhD programs I have read about are: Columbia, Emory, UW... but how about for master's programs?

3) How common is full funding? This is my most major concern. I understand that funding for master's students isn't as available as for PhD students, but if a master's degree is necessary first, then I would need funding.

4) How about English-language international programs? I have no qualms about studying abroad and as I mentioned, London has the program I am most interested in (I just don't know how I'd pay for it!).

If anyone who has completed an MS or PhD degree in this field has any advice, I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you!

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Epi/Biostatistics deals with the analysis of datasets and information in order to make inferences. Biomath however deals with developing more mechanical and predictive models of biological phenomena. If that is what you mean by "mathematical modeling" though, you might want to start using the correct language (in SOP's for instance), or grad committees might look at your application and think "Is this person sure what they are applying for. . ."

Also, most of those programs will have very large schools of Public Health (Emory definitely does), and if your background includes Calculus and Linear Algebra, then you should have little trouble being competitive. However, if you are positive you are going on to a PhD program, there is no reason to apply to their Public Health programs, and you should instead apply directly to their PhD program. The top programs all have some full-funding of some sort (Emory does funding for the first three years. . .after that you need to secure funding on your own - TA or RA or outside position).

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My interests are very similar, additionally, I want to focus on mathematical biology (biomath) that has to do with genetic engineering. I know NCSU is very prominent in genetic engineering and biomath, one of my top choices. CU of Boulder, UA of Tucson(or Tempe?) and UNM are very big on biomath.

As for having the masters degree prior to PH.D, I know some who have went straight for PH.D but for the safe route, I'd rather get the Master's to try it out before I dedicate 5 years of my life in one school. Full funding is common in most schools, some schools won't accept you if they can't fund you as well. And some schools will accept you without funding, up to them.

I was very keen at looking at the University of Durham of their Biomath degree. But they obliterated the degree and made it into a Biophysics MSc, which is a BIG turnoff for me and unfortunate event. I looked at their curriculum for Biophysics and it is totally not what I want in Biomath at all. UCL has a strong applied math department, not sure about biomath research.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did a lot of research in biomath during undergrad and heard great things about uc davis, ohio state, and university of delaware. I think those are a few of the big places for biomath research at the moment.

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