Kevin Jenniskens, alumnus Master's Epidemiology postgraduate
"I remember when I was first inspired about the concept of prediction. It was during a course on prediction modelling and, although I had heard of the concept before, I wasn't sure what the entire process of prediction modelling meant and what you could do with it. When the penny dropped, I realised that prediction is everywhere, from cancer prognosis to predicting whether you are going to make a green traffic light. Understanding prediction from a conceptual perspective, and realising that we do it all the time, really blew my mind – and spurred me into pursuing the work I am passionate about now.
I am a PhD student at the Department of Epidemiology in the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care. I work in the methods group on the subject of overdiagnosis – which is making diagnoses when there is no clear (clinical) benefit. My work involves exploring methods for describing overdiagnosis, how disease definition affects diagnostic accuracy estimates, and the impact of assessment prediction models. I come up with methodological frameworks, simulating models, and write papers; I also teach medical, biomedical sciences students, and some Master’s courses, and take part in a lot of meetings. At the Healthcare Innovation Center (THINC), a department within the Julius Center, I have performed cost-effectiveness analyses for start-up companies developing med-tech innovations.
The Epidemiology Master’s programme provides a complete picture of the most important topics in epidemiological research and is taught by key figures in the field. It teaches you how to conduct top quality scientific research – and the small groups provide a great climate for discussion, which without doubt makes for a higher level of understanding. Learning how to communicate my ideas and the results of my work have been essential preparation for my job as a PhD student."
Minke Kooistra, alumnus Master's Epidemiology postgraduate
“My job is in the research department of Alzheimer Nederland, where we facilitate the work of researchers in the Netherlands. My experience in research and clinical epidemiology helps me to understand and assess their research and applications, make selections, and critically read relevant scientific articles.
My Master’s in Epidemiology was an opportunity that came with my PhD position at UMC Utrecht and the Julius Center. I had applied for the PhD after completing a Bachelor’s in Human Movement Sciences and a Master’s in Neuropsychology. I was interested in conducting research in the field of neuroscience, specifically in older individuals with various forms of vascular disease. I also wanted to conduct research in a hospital setting, where I could work closely with patients.
I already had quite some statistics and methodological courses and experience, but clinical epidemiology was new to me. Studying for this Master’s while doing my PhD turned out to be incredibly helpful, because everything I learned in my Master’s was directly applicable to the research I was doing for my PhD. For example, for my PhD, I used data from a large cohort study, and epidemiology helped me understand how to effectively read and analyse this data. My Master’s also helped me to formulate the right research questions and to select the best statistical methods to conduct the analysis.
I would highly recommend this Master’s. If you want a career in scientific research, this Master’s will help set you up. I have had colleagues who say they wished they had this degree because of the advantages it delivers in terms of knowing how to set up a really good study, whether it is developing a good research question or understanding its statistical aspects.”