Planning for the Future of Epidemiology in the Era of Big Data and Precision Medicine

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Abstract

We live in the era of genomics and big data. Evaluating the impact on health of large-scale biological, social, and environmental data is an emerging challenge in the field of epidemiology. In the past 3 years, major discussions and plans for the future of epidemiology, including with several recommendations for actions to transform the field, have been launched by 2 institutes within the National Institutes of Health. In the present commentary, I briefly explore the themes of these recommendations and their effects on leadership, resources, cohort infrastructure, and training. Ongoing engagement within the epidemiology community is needed to determine how to shape the evolution of the field and what truly matters for changing population health. We also need to assess how to leverage existing epidemiology resources and develop new studies to improve human health. Readers are invited to examine these recommendations, consider others that might be important, and join in the conversation about the future of epidemiology.

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