Since starting this blog a few years back, I have had some interesting feedback on the diagnostics and research of the odd ailments and conditions, and yet, I’ve gotten more than a few questions that really defied an easy answer. Not surprisingly, these were not health or medically related. Here is a short post that I’ve compiled based on two such questions.
Question one: “What is a Clinical Epidemiologist?”
Question two: “Do you work with bugs or skin?”
Let me try to address these questions and clear up any confusion concerning epidemiology, entomology, and dermatology.
A clinical epidemiologist is a medical professional who studies diseases and the way they spread. Primarily, they use research to improve clinical and patient-oriented healthcare. Some clinical epidemiologist work in labs, or in a forensic capacity conducting investigations of disease outbreaks. Whether they work in a hospital setting, a research laboratory, or in the field, ultimately, the focus is on reducing the occurrence of negative health issues.
Some of the duties that a clinical epidemiologist would perform include overseeing research on various diseases or outbreaks (like Ebola or influenza), compiling data for publication, developing procedures or policies related to disease control in medical facilities or research laboratories, consulting with healthcare facilities, nursing homes, or hospitals to minimize infectious disease issues, help develop educational resources to minimize the spread of diseases (hand washing, wearing a seatbelt, etc.), consulting with public health department on infectious and chronic disease issues, designing and developing research studies, interpret and analyze medical data for other researchers, investigate the results of medications on patients to better understand safety and effectiveness, and working in the field to locate the source of disease outbreaks from viruses (Ebola), bacteria (Pestis), vibrio (Cholera), or zoonotic (parasites).
A clinical epidemiologist may choose to work in a field that is more specialized, for example, environmental health (pollution or environmental toxins), chronic conditions (cancer, metabolic syndrome, obesity..my speciality), infectious conditions (Viruses, Bacteria, Vibrio, or Zoonotic). Beyond these specialties, clinical epidemiologists spend a good deal of time consulting and conferring with other medical professionals including physicians, public health officials, researchers, and health administrators. Many also work in research facilities or universities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies employ a large number of clinical epidemiologists.
An entomologist is a natural scientist that studies insects. Entomologists study the classification, life cycle, distribution, physiology, behavior, and ecology and population dynamics of insects. Many work in agricultural and urban environments. Everything we know about pollinators like bees, we own to entomologists. They also enforce quarantines and regulations on certain imports, performing insect survey work, and consult on pest management. The greatest numbers of entomologists are employed in some aspect of economic or applied entomology that deals with the control of harmful insects, this includes methods of controlling insects like mosquitos while protecting beneficial insects like bees.
Perhaps the greatest entomologist of all time is Edward O. Wilson, who has written many books, among them some of my personal favorites Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975), On Human Nature (1978), and The Ants(1980). His most thoughtful work to date, Consilience (1998) asked some fundamental questions about science. According to Wilson, all knowledge, from the humanities to the natural sciences, can be unified. Along the lines of field epidemiology, a relatively new area of research is called medical entomology, and works with public health professionals, epidemiologists, and other medical professionals in the areas of disease prevention.
A dermatologist is a medical doctor that specializes in treating diseases and conditions of the skin, hair, nails, and the mucous membranes (lining inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids). Dermatologists treat over 3,000 different diseases, including skin cancer, eczema, acne, psoriasis, infections, and some autoimmune disorders.
So, in conclusion, I do work with bugs (sort of) but only those very few that cause diseases. Other than knowing that the skin is the largest organ of the body, I know next to nothing about dermatology.
I hope this clears up any confusion.