This program arises in a suitable scientific, academic and social context. Regarding the scientific context, epidemiology is a consolidated scientific discipline, whose contributions are published in the best biomedical journals in the world. In fact, epidemiology is the basic science of clinical research and public health. In addition, proposals have been made to use the methods of epidemiology in the control of social problems outside the field of health, such as criminal justice and the fight against terrorism, the improvement of the quality of education, the failures in the sports field, or the environmental challenges of the future (Epidemiology- a science for the people, Lancet 2013, 381: 1249-51). This has been accompanied by a reconnaissance with an area of evaluation of the ANECA, a specific CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health, and a Strategic Action for Health Research (with an annual funding of more than 60 million euros) focused on research with a preferably epidemiological approach. In fact, epidemiology and public health have a long tradition of multiprofessional collaboration (with experimental laboratory scientists, economists, engineers, social scientists, etc.). All this makes this PhD program interesting for professionals in health sciences and also for professionals from many other areas with social relevance.
In terms of the academic context, the departments of epidemiology and public health are part of medical schools in all countries and also have postgraduate faculties (Public Health Schools) in the most prestigious academic institutions in the world. This is a reflection of the maturation of this discipline and the recognition of academic institutions to it.
Regarding the social context, there is at this moment an aspect of enormous relevance. Epidemiology has provided a conceptual framework to understand the processes of generating the economic crisis (the crisis is generated and extended as an “epidemic disease”) and is showing which are the most effective policies to mitigate the effect of the crisis on health of the population (Financial crisis, austerity, and health in Europe, Lancet 2013; 381: 1323-31). In addition, public health has formulated strategies for the reduction of socioeconomic inequalities with an impact on health, which are the type of policies that contribute to the prosperity of nations by improving the health of the population (The unequal health of Europeans: successes and failures of policies Lancet 2013: 381: 1125-34). This type of policy is at the center of the responses to the economic crisis, which is accompanied by an increase in societal inequalities between countries (WHO European review of social determinants of health and the health divide, Lancet 2012; 380: 1011-29) . All this place the graduates of our program in an optimal position to effectively contribute, through epidemiological research and public health action, to the collective efforts necessary to alleviate the effects of the crisis and accelerate the exit from it.
The participating institutions offer society the training of professionals in different areas of health sciences, such as the Degrees of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Physiotherapy and Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. The advancement of research in Health Sciences, as well as the quality of the training received by graduate students, has led them to continue their undergraduate studies, with Master’s studies and Doctorate studies, in an effort to contribute to the scientific research of our society. To date, the participating institutions have offered an adequate number of University Master’s Degrees, with a high degree of acceptance by the students graduated from the University itself, as well as from other Spanish universities. At the present time, and according to RD 99/2011 of January 28, the participating institutions, given the high number of students enrolled in Master programs, feel committed and obliged to qualify the offer of postgraduate studies in the Field of health Sciences.