Australian Epidemiology Association ASM 2018

The future of epidemiology (#115)

David Preen 1
  1. University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia

Scientific enquiry in the areas of health and medicine continue to evolve as the understanding of our world and access to new technologies expand. Since John Snow's sentinel work using statistical mapping to investigate cholera outbreaks, the discipline of epidemiology has also undergone considerable transformation.  The expansion of focus from infectious to non-communicable disease, and the incorporation of socio-ecological paradigms have characterised changes in the field of epidemiology over the last century. Accordingly, epidemiological theory and methods have developed in-step with this changing focus leading to the modern epidemiology movement which gained considerable traction in the second half of the 20th century.  

Exponential advances in technology over recent decades have unquestionably created new and exciting avenues for health research. The advent of big data, data linkage, geo-spatial technology, machine learning, natural langue processing, real-time analytics and the expanding 'omics universe, to name but a few, provide many opportunities, and also possess a range of risks, for the field of epidemiology as a standalone discipline. We likely stand on the cusp of the next era for our discipline. However, for epidemiology to thrive, new methodologies need to be conceptualised and embraced with fresh approaches to adopt new technologies as they continue to develop. This session will overview the potential opportunities and challenges ahead for the discipline of epidemiology. An expert panel will also bring together leading thinkers and practitioners across health, technology and community sectors to discuss implications and possible solutions for the future of epidemiology.