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Division of Tropical Public Health- Graduate Education Program

Master of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (MTM&H)

The MTM&H degree program, a broad didactic experience similar to the MPH degree program, is designed for medical officers preparing for assignment to tropical medicine clinical, research and teaching positions. The MTM&H degree provides academic preparation for residency training and board certification in General Preventive Medicine.

The goal of the MTM&H program is to provide each student with the necessary academic background to practice as a competent public health officer and tropical disease expert. The program is designed for physicians desiring specific preparation for assignment to tropical medicine clinical, research and teaching positions. Graduates of the MTM&H program will acquire the same quantitative and analytical skills in biostatistics and epidemiology as MPH graduates. They will also be able to assess the health needs of communities and to investigate the impact of biological, environmental, and behavioral factors on community health. Graduates will acquire an in-depth knowledge of the agents of tropical diseases, medical parasitology, and vector biology. During the required overseas rotation they will have the opportunity for hands-on experience with the epidemiology, pathology, diagnosis, management, treatment, prevention, surveillance, and control of selected tropical diseases. The MTM&H degree also represents suitable academic preparation for residency training and board certification in General Preventive Medicine/Public Health.

MTM&H Competencies

  • 1) Understand the lifecycle of the malaria parasite in its human and mosquito hosts and its implication on prevention and treatment of malaria.
  • 2) Understand the ecology, clinical presentation, and prevention of common arboviral diseases.
  • 3) State the life-cycle, be able to accurately diagnose (clinically and by laboratory methods), and appropriately treat common or significant parasitic diseases of humans.
  • 4) Understand the challenges and possess a basic understanding of public health response to natural disasters and complex emergency situations.
  • 5) Demonstrate the clinical skills and cultural competencies required to perform clinical work in a resource-poor environment.

MTM&H Curriculum

For Applications or Information Contact:
Director of Graduate Programs
Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics
USUHS, 4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, MD 20814-4799
Tel (301) 295-3050; DSN 295-3050
FAX (301) 295-1933
Associate Dean for Graduate Education
USUHS, 4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, MD 20814-4799
Tel (301) 295-3913; DSN 295-3913

Master of Public Health (MPH) - Tropical Public Health Concentration

The MPH degree program is a one year rigorous, quantitatively oriented curriculum which provides a broad didactic experience in preventive medicine and its principal subspecialties, and is primarily designed for individuals planning careers in Preventive Medicine and Community Health within the Uniformed Services. Core requirements for the completion of the MPH degree can be found in the PMB Graduate Student Handbook. Five concentrations are available to an MPH candidate, including the Tropical Public Health concentration.

Students completing the Tropical Public Health concentration will acquire an understanding of the ecology, epidemiology, clinical aspects, and prevention of tropical diseases. Specific competencies for the Tropical Public Health Concentration within the MPH Program:

  • 1) Understand the major elements of tropical public health in relation to the Host-Vector-Agent-Environment paradigm.
  • 2) Given a case history, physical examination, and appropriate laboratory and radiologic studies, develop a correct differential diagnosis and state appropriate treatment for common or significant tropical diseases.
  • 3) Accurately describe appropriate pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic methods of preventing common or significant tropical diseases.
  • 4) Provide appropriate pre-travel and post-travel consultation for individuals or groups of individuals traveling from the United States to resource-poor environments, in accordance with IDSA/ISTM standards.
  • 5) Understand the epidemiology and prevention methods of vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • 6) Understand the special needs of vulnerable populations, to include children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals, living in or traveling to resource-poor environments.

Courses offered by the Division of Tropical Public Health include:

PMO560 Principles & Practice of Tropical Medicine
PMO561 Medical Parasitology
PMO563 Clinical Tropical Medicine
PMO564 Epidemiology and Control of Arboviruses
PMO565 Vector Biology
PMO566 Physiological Parameters of Vector Competence
PMO567 Changing Patterns of Arthropod-borne Diseases
PMO568 Medical Archaeology
PMO569 Malaria Epidemiology and Control
PMO570 Modern Technology and Vector-borne Disease
PMO571 Biosystematics in Medical Zoology
PMO573 Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-preventable Diseases
PMO577 Introduction to GIS in Public Health
PMO578 Remote Sensing Methods in Public Health
PMO613 Public Health Issues of Disasters in Developing Countries
PMO614 Tropical Medicine Rounds
PMO615 Sand Flies and Disease
PMO661 Current Topics in Preventive Medicine & Biometrics
PMO760 Tropical Medicine Research Tutorial
PMO761 Immunoparasitology Tutorial
PMO763 Tutorial in Medical Zoology
PMO764 Tutorial in Aquatic Biology
PMO990 Travel Medicine
PMO992 Travel Clinic Practicum

Recommended coursework for the Tropical Public Health Concentration includes PMO565-Vector Biology, PMO512-Epidemiology II, PMO560-Principles and Practices of Tropical Medicine, PMO569-Malaria Epidemiology and Control, and PMO613-Public Health Issues of Disasters in Developing Countries. Other recommended courses include PMO548-Joint Medical Operations and Humanitarian Assistance, PMO561-Medical Parasitology, and PMO564-Epidemiology and Control of Arboviruses.

Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Zoology (PhD)

The Division of Tropical Public Health offers a Ph.D. program in Medical Zoology for students with a master's degree in entomology or parasitology who wish to pursue further study in field-oriented medical parasitology or vector biology. The minimum residency requirements for a doctoral degree will be 36 months of full-time graduate study. All requirements for a doctoral degree must be completed no later than seven years after initiating the program of graduate study at USU. Formal course work, participation in PMB teaching programs as teaching assistants, research fellows or senior research fellows, directed research, and participation in other academic activities in approved programs of graduate study are all components of the pre-doctoral graduate education program. Academic credit will be given for participation in these activities. Full-time status for trainees in graduate education programs will be defined as 12 or more credit hours per academic quarter. The minimum requirement for formal course work will be 48 credit hours, and the minimum requirement for total academic credit will be 144 credit hours.

The Ph.D. degree program provides a broad didactic and research experience in Medical Zoology and its principal subspecialties, and is primarily designed for individuals interested in Medical Parasitology or Vector Biology (Medical Entomology). Specific goals for the Ph.D. degree program are to develop independent scholarship, originality, and competence in research, teaching and professional service. This program is designed for outstanding students with a strong commitment to careers in Medical Zoology. Within each Ph.D. program, an individualized course of study is designed for each graduate student to meet his or her specific needs.

A series of core courses will be required of all students in the Ph.D. program. Students may choose electives in medical entomology and/or medical parasitology. In addition, courses offered in Medical Parasitology include experimental parasitology, helminthology and protozoology. Electives offered in Medical Entomology include modern technology, medical entomology, physiology, arbovirology, biosystematics, malariology, medical acarology and aquatic entomology. All students will be expected to complete a minimum of 144 credit hours, of which 48 credit hours must be devoted to formal course work. Applicants will be accepted as full-time students and a minimum of three year's resident study will be required.

Teaching experience is considered to be an integral part of a graduate education and all graduate students in the program will participate in the Diagnostic Parasitology course offered to medical students and/or in other Department courses. A course of study in computer and quantitative science will be substituted for a language requirement.

PhD Medical Zoology Competencies

1. Characterize the epidemiology, pathogenesis, public health impact and control of the 10 most common infectious diseases of the developing world, including malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, diarrhea, sexually transmitted diseases, and merging diseases.

2. Discuss the diagnosis and treatment of important protozoal diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, and trypanosomiasis.

3. Discuss the epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of important arboviral diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, and tick-borne encephalitis.

4. Apply epidemiological principals and investigative procedures needed to identify and analyze emerging disease outbreaks.

5. Describe the medical infrastructure of major regions of the tropics, including local health operations, foreign government institutions, non-government operations, and international agencies (e.g., USAID, WHO, PAHO, and UNICEF).

6. Develop a practical and comprehensive prevention and control program for common tropical public health problems.

7. Explain the impact of local culture, religion, family structure and alternative medical customs in major areas of the tropics.

8. List the environmental hazards of the tropics, including plants and anim,al;s, extremes of temperature and altitude, and toxic chemicals.

9. Describe the environmental variables involved in the maintenance of vector populations and disease transmission.

10. Characterize the behavioral and ecological conditions that contribute to efficient transmission of vector-borne diseases to humans (conditions that favor human and vector contact).

11. Discuss the principles of disease nidality and vector incrimination.

12. Define biological and mechanical transmission and be able to discuss characteristics of major arthropod-borne diseases by type of biological transmission.

13. Know and understand the categories, major morphological, and physiological characteristics of arthropods, with emphasis on those characteristics that distinguish and define insect and arachnid vectors of human diseases.

14. Describe the epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of various parasite zoonoses that affect humans.

15. Use various laboratory techniques to establish the diagnosis of zoonotic parasitic diseases and the four human-infecting plasmodia in humans.

16. Describe the treatment, prevention and control of zoonotic parasitic diseases in humans.

17. Describe the morphology and life cycle of the malaria parasite(s) in humans and mosquitoes.

18. List different anti-malarials, describe their mode(s) of action, and discuss their worldwide use in drug prophylaxis and treatment.

19. Describe the life stages of arthropods of medical importance and their detailed morphology, physiology, behavior, and habits as related to human disease transmission, surveillance, prevention, and control.

20. Apply appropriate biosystematic methods (e.g., classical, cladistic, and molecular) to determine various species of medically important arthropods.

21. Explain the major biological and environmental factors affectinf arthropod-borne disease transmission in different ecological situations.

22. Explain the history, principles, successes, and failures of malaria control versus malaria eradication and how they apply to current programs and to the futures, to include consideration of new technologies (e.g., remote sensing/GIS programs).

23. Describe the basic principles of immunization for disease prevention.

24. Apply various immunological and molecular biological techniques in the study of arthropod-borne human diseases.

25. Design and conduct an intensive, unique field/laboratory research project on an arthropod vector and/or vertebrate reservoir of a human disease such as malaria.

Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH)

The goal of the two-year thesis-based MSPH in Medical Zoology program is to provide students with the necessary academic background to function as public health specialists within the Uniformed Services. Graduates of this program will acquire basic knowledge and skills in the five core disciplines of public health, plus in-depth knowledge in medical zoology. Students will gain knowledge and understanding of vector biology and how arthropods affect human health; how to conduct vector-borne disease risk assessments; and how to plan, coordinate, and implement vector control operations. Prior education or experience in the biological or physical sciences or in a health-related field is required to be considered for admission to this program.

The MSPH degree program is a two-year program requiring a minimum of 120 credit-hours. At least 60 credit hours of coursework (non-research hours) are required and will include a practicum experience and 2 credit hours of journal club. The coursework hours may also include electives and independent studies. Waivers may be granted on a case-by-case basis with approval by the Course Director and the Research Advisor (Academic Advisor may be substituted if a Research Advisor has not yet been selected). A written, orally-defended thesis is also required for the MSPH degree. Credit hours may be graded or pass-fail, as determined by the respective Course Director, provided the percentage of pass-fail course credits does not exceed 25% of the total number of credits for coursework taken.

Practicum Experience
The MSPH degree program requires a specific field or practicum experience. This requirement is identical to that required for the MPH degree, which is briefly described in this PMB Handbook and the Department's "Practicum and Independent Project Handbook." Students take PMO670-Public Health Practicum for MPH students. The student may enroll during any quarter with approval.

Students must complete and defend a written thesis based on their original research within the two-year program. The thesis is submitted to the student's Research Advisor for approval and subsequently presented and defended before a Thesis Examination Committee followed by a public defense. The student's Research Advisor must have an academic appointment in the PMB Department. Credit for research is received by enrolling in PMO964-Research in Medical Zoology, with the approval of the student's Academic Advisor. Students will be assigned a grade by the Research Advisor for each quarter corresponding to the credit hours taken in that quarter.

Thesis Defense
The Thesis Examination Committee will be composed of at least three members: the Research Advisor, who serves as the Committee Chair, and two other members. At least two of the three members must be full-time faculty with primary appointments in the PMB Department, and one member must be within the sponsoring PMB Division in which the student is enrolled.

MSPH Medical Zoology Specialty Track Competencies 1. Know and understand the distinguishing morphological and physiological characteristics of the various arthropod classes and describe the morphology, classification and biology of the major families and/or genera.

2. Characterize the epidemiology, public health impact and control of significant vector-borne anthroponotic and zoonotic diseases and describe the environmental, ecological and behavior factors that contribute to efficient transmission in humans.

3. Describe the basic criteria for incrimination of a vector, the modes of transmission by vectors, and categories of arthropods involved in transmission of human diseases.

4. Identify the 4 human plasmodia through differential diagnosis and describe the general clinical course, pathology, and epidemiology of human malaria, including the life cycles of the malaria parasites in humans and mosquitoes and major biological and environmental factors affecting malaria transmission in different ecological situations.

5. Explain the history, principles, successes and failures of malaria control versus malaria eradication and how they apply to current programs and to the future, including consideration of new technologies (e.g. remote sensing/GIS programs).

6. Describe the general clinical course, pathology, and epidemiology of arboviruses, including the life cycles of the viruses in humans and mosquitoes and major biological and environmental factors affecting arbovirus transmission in different ecological situations.

7. Develop practical surveillance, prevention and control programs for common vector-borne tropical public health problems.

8. Know and understand the theory and methodology of systematics as it is currently applied to all groups of organisms, with practical experience in the acquisition and analysis of systematic data.

Graduate Degree Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases (PhD)

The Graduate Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) is an interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program designed primarily for individuals who wish to engage in graduate study of the pathogenesis, host response, and epidemiology of infectious diseases. The following are objectives for EID students:

  • 1) To provide the scientific community with broadly- educated, outstanding research scientists that can contribute significantly to the increasingly complex field of infectious disease mechanisms and pathogenesis, and
  • 2) To provide a rigorous academic research environment wherein students learn to ask well-informed questions, develop the skills to answer those questions at the bench, expand their capacity to think creatively and broadly, and acquire the skills necessary to communicate their ideas orally and in writing to colleagues.

The EID program has more than 50 appointed teaching and research faculty members from within the University and other research organizations. The EID academic program combines formal course work and research training that are provided by an interdisciplinary EID faculty.

The EID faculty members are chosen for participation in the EID Program based on their overall research interests in emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, pathogenesis, immunology, epidemiology of infectious diseases, and/or biodefense. Synergistic research and educational opportunities are offered by clinical and basic science faculty who hold primary appointments in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, Pathology, Preventive Medicine/Epidemiology, Biochemistry, Pediatrics, or Medicine. In the EID Program, students will have the opportunity to engage in cutting edge research either at the bench or in the field. Research programs in cellular and molecular aspects of microbial pathogenesis and immunology coexist with research programs that focus on field-oriented medical parasitology or vector biology. The blending of these academic areas has gradually evolved during the development of our Program and today provides a rich research environment, which ensures that the students have strong interdisciplinary training. In addition to the University-based thesis advisors for EID students, thesis advisors may include USU faculty members from some of the preeminent infectious diseases research institutes in the country: the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC), or their subordinate laboraties. The ability of these Institutes to focus their research programs on select agents and tropical diseases provides stimulating research opportunities for trainees who seek to devote their graduate studies to the areas of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. In addition, students have an exceptional opportunity to choose from a variety of training environments that include both field studies and bench studies. A number of our faculty members have ongoing studies in Belize, Peru, Thailand, and Brazil. The juxtaposition of tropical medicine and pathogenesis research in the same graduate program provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to participate in multiple educational experiences.

PMB Contact

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799