Department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology

History and Present 

In 2002 the department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology in the School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, was formed by combining the Department of Health Statistics and the Department of Epidemiology.  In 2004 the Department of Mathematics in the School of Basic Medicine was merged into this new department as well. The  department is now comprised of 25 staff members including 9 professors, 7 associate professors, 5 lecturers, 7 doctoral supervisors, and 14 master’s supervisors. Among the supervisors, all of them have doctorate degrees.

The Department of Health Statistics was founded in 1976; Professor Mengxuan Hu was the director. The Department was among the first group of institutes to authorize a master’s degree in 1981 and it became one of the four departments nationwide to authorize the doctoral degree in 1985. The successive directors and deputy directors were Mengxuan Hu, Xiaolan Huang, Yangzhi Du, Nan Hong, Jiqian Fang, Futian Luo, Qing Liu, and Yuantao Hao respectively.

The teaching group of Epidemiology was founded in 1980 and was then affiliated with the Department of Medical Statistics. In 1984 it was officially established as the Department of Epidemiology. The successive directors and deputy directors were Zhaomeng Hua, Jishan Qu, Zhijin Wang, Zhongliang Chen, Weiqing Chen, Yuming Chen, and Ciyong Lu respectively.

The Department of Mathematics was separated from the Department of Physics and Mathematics in 1984. The successive directors and deputy directors were Panxiang Luo, Zhuoquan Chen, and Suizhi He respectively.

The director and deputy director of the  department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology now are Jinxin Zhang and Caixia Zhang respectively.

Epidemiology and Health Statistics was approved as the Key Discipline of Guangdong Province in 2003. Medical Statistics was approved as: the Excellent Course of Guangdong Province in 2005; the National Excellent Course in 2008; the National Bilingual Teaching Model Course in 2010; the Excellent Course of Guangdong Province in Web-based Education in 2012; National Course with Excellent Teaching resources in 2012; the Excellent Video Open Course of Guangdong Province and the Brand Course for International Students in China in 2013; National Brand Course of MOOCs in 2014 and Excellent Teaching Team of Guangdong Province in 2015. At present, the  department is one of the most highly recognized and leading institutions in China, with an appropriate teaching structure, outstanding teaching qualities, and excellent research abilities.
Teaching and Talent Cultivation
1. Student Cultivation
Fifty-one (51) doctoral candidates, 192 master candidates, and 326 MPH candidates have graduated from the discipline of Epidemiology and Health Statistics. Currently, there are 31 doctoral candidates, 90 master candidates and 65 MPH candidates on campus. In the recent years, the enrollment scale includes eight (8) doctoral candidates and 33 master candidates per year.

2. Classroom Teaching
The  department undertake the teaching of many courses:
(1) Hygiene and Health Statistics for bachelor candidates majoring in Clinical Medicine; Public Health; Oral Medicine; Forensic Pathology; Radiation and Imaging; Anesthesiology; and Nursing and so on.
(2) Mathematical Statistics in Medicine for bachelor candidates of the School of Pharmacy.
(3) Epidemiology and AIDS Education for bachelor candidates majoring in Clinical Medicine and Preventive Medicine.
(4) Epidemiology; Medical Scientific Research Design; and Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Advanced Mathematics for graduate students majoring in Clinical Medicine and Preventive Medicine.
Meanwhile, the  department also participates in guiding all kinds of scientific research trainings.
3. Teaching Facilities
(1) Students’ Computer Experiments Labs:
① Computer lab for medical statistics graduates: a multi-media classroom with total area of 55 m2 and 40 computers.
② Computer center (the common computer platform in north campus of Sun Yat-sen University): 4 multi-media classrooms with total area of 400 m2 and 300 computers.
(2) Preparation room for Epidemiological Experiments, Teaching Laboratory Center (the open platform of the School of Public Health).
(3) Computer lab for scientific research for graduates: with total area of 120 m2 and 80 computers.
(4) Computer lab for simulation experiments for graduates: with an area of 20 m2, 2 large-scale servers and 2 computers.
4. Teaching Reform and Achievements
1997: The Teaching Reform of Medical Statistics and Its Implementation and Promotion was awarded the first prize for outstanding teaching achievements of Guangdong province.
2003-2004: We held workshops of The Modern Medical Statistics twice (The National Continuing Education Program).
2008: The Teaching Reform of Medical Statistics was awarded the first prize for teaching achievements of Sun Yat-sen University.
2009-2010 We performed demonstration teaching of Medical Statistics in English twice (The National Continuing Education Program).
2010: The teaching reform program of medical statistics was awarded the second prize for outstanding teaching achievements of Guangdong province.
2011-2015: We have undertaken 12 teaching research projects and published 40 teaching research papers.
2012-2013: Chief editorial unit for Health Statistics.
2014: Medical Statistics was available to the public on the Chinese MOOC platform (
Academic Research and Achievements

As a main discipline in Public Health, Medical Statistics and Epidemiology mainly conducts research related to biostatistics theory and chronic disease epidemiology. The rapid development of computer technology accelerates the advance in research on biostatistics theory and techniques. The combining of biostatistics theory and techniques with epidemiology is of great importance to exploring the pathogenesis of and to finding measures for disease control and prevention. The features and impacts of this discipline are described in the following:
1. The discipline is leading the international area of biostatistics theory and techniques research. A large number of projects are funded by the 12th Five-year Plan, the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the Key Projects of NSFC, and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, including: survey and evaluation of quality of life; AIDS and Hepatitis B related epidemiology; ion-channel signal processing; the epidemiological model of the causal inference; the statistical analysis theories and methods of genetic epidemiology data; the time series analysis of environment and health monitoring data; causal inference method; and the schistosome gene sequences study among others. All are considered the hottest areas of research around the world.
2. The discipline has developed behavior epidemiology, nutrition epidemiology, tumor epidemiology, and zoonosis epidemiology. Cohort studies with large samples, such as “The Guangzhou resident health study cohort”, “Breast cancer survival cohort,” and “Colorectal cancer survival cohort”, have been established with the related data banks and biology sample banks built into them. The pregnant women and infant birth cohort, in cooperation with the Nanshan Maternal and Child Care Center, is being established. The research results have been published in well-recognized international journals such as the International Journal of Epidemiology, Human Molecular Genetics, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, British Journal of Cancer, International Journal of Cancer, and the Journal of Infectious Disease.

3. The research on prevention and control of nasopharyngeal cancer is characteristic of this research: the discipline has carried out field epidemiology and clinical epidemiology research on pathogenesis, prevention and treatment for more than 20 years. In this area, we have developed and applied statistics theory and techniques for gene location and screening effect evaluation at an international leading level.

4. With the characteristics of multi-national, multi-area, multi-culture, the study of Determination and Evaluation of Quality of Life has already become the international hot-spot in the medicine and health care fields since the end of the 20th century and imposes new challenges to statistical theory and methods. To meet the challenge, our team participated in the international collaboration that was led and funded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union (EU).

Academic status of the discipline
1. The Department had been one of the four departments nationwide to authorize the doctoral degree. As the discipline leader, Prof. Jiqian Fang is not only a national outstanding teacher but also the member of the International Medical Statistical Association and the head of the Chinese group. Furthermore, he has long been the vice-director of the Chinese Health Information Association (CHIA). Prof. Yuantao Hao is the vice-director of the committee of Medical Statistics Education in CHIA. Prof. Li Ling is the vice-director of the committee of statistical theory and methodology in CHIA. Since 1980s, CHIA has been the teacher training base approved by the Ministry of Education and has successfully organized national training programs and academic meetings many times. In the 21st century, the Department has become the chief editorial unit for: Health Statistics (the state-compiled textbook for preventive medicine students), Medical Statistics (the state-compiled textbook for clinical medicine students), and Medical Statistics and Computer Experiments (the recommended textbook for medical graduate students).

2. The discipline carried out tumor epidemiology research early in the country. We have successfully established a number of tumor research sites such as Zhongshan City and Sihui City of Guangdong Province which have become long-term bases for tumor research nationwide. This reflects the significant efforts and perseverance of the involved group of the renowned professors including Prof. Mengxuan Hu, Prof. Jishan Qu, Prof. Qing Liu, Prof. Zefang Ren, Prof. Caixia Zhang and so on. The achievements of the nasopharyngeal cancer epidemiology and statistics study led to the award of second prize for national scientific and technological progress. Genetic epidemiology and genetic statistics also played an important role in the breakthrough related to the gene location of nasopharyngeal carcinoma - chromosome 4 (published in Nature Genetic).

3. Our team has taken the lead in research on the Determination and Evaluation of Quality of Life,which is the only center for WHO in China. The research center developed the quality of life measurement scale WHOQOL-100 (Chinese version) with the collaboration of WHO, and it has become the standard of the Ministry of Health. Besides, as the leading institute of this research field in China, the Department had successfully organized four national conferences on quality of life issues.
4. Prof. Yuantao Hao, Dean of the School of Public Health, is in charge of the National key science and technology programs of the 12th 5-year plan, ‘The Integrated and Community-based Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS and HBV infection in Guangdong Province,’ and he also directs or participates in six additional national level projects. In the past five years, the discipline has led 12 national projects and published 106 SCI papers related to Health Statistics. Meanwhile, under the direction of Prof. Weiqing Chen, the discipline has completed 16 national projects over the past five years and published 167 SCI papers in the past ten years related to Epidemiology.
Main research fields
1. Research on statistical methods for biological information (gene location of complex diseases, genetic linkage, and time series)
2. Statistical methods and etiologic studies on tumors and other chronic diseases (causal inference, genetic epidemiology, and small area analysis)
3. Research on quality of life (tumor, drug abuse, diabetes mellitus, the elderly, and the disabled)
4. Molecular epidemiology (genetic polymorphism, relationship between gene and industrial poisoning)
5. Social psychological factors and health (occupational stress and treatment compliance)
6. Research on clinical research design and analytical methods (grouping design, diagnostic tests, repeated measurement, evidence-based medicine, and clinical trials)
7. Behavioral epidemiology (smoking, AIDS, sexually transmitted disease, obesity, migrant population, drug addiction, and One-health)
8. Actuarial method research on medical insurance (insurance products, benefit analysis)
9. Statistical methods in health service management (establishing and investigating health policy, response to public health emergencies, health service development planning)
10. Molecular epidemiology and biomarker (nasopharyngeal carcinoma, interaction between environment, heredity and genetic susceptibility, and Vaccinology)
11. Nutrition epidemiology (relationships between food, nutrition and diseases such as osteoporosis, tumors, diabetes and cardiovascular disease)
12. Clinical epidemiology (chronic diseases, AIDS, HBV, and osteoporosis)
13. Epidemiology of chronic noninfectious diseases (obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer)
14. Epidemiology of infectious diseases (AIDS, hand-foot-mouth disease, and dengue fever)

Director, Prof. ZHANG Jinxin, Tel: 8620-87332453, Email:
Associate Director, Prof. ZHANG Caixia, Tel: 8620-87331943, Email: