Netherlands, Nijmegen

When Science Meets Law: Forensic Epidemiology in Legal Practice

when 13 August 2018 - 17 August 2018
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 ECTS
fee EUR 660

As written by Sherlock Holmes in 1887, "It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence; it biases the judgement". Epidemiologists have been called the Sherlock Holmes of public health, as they use empirical observation and logic reasoning in their search for the truth. Although epidemiology generally studies the distribution and causation of disease in populations, its tools may well be applied in forensic venues. This is what forensic epidemiology is all about.

Initially, the field of forensic epidemiology was introduced to systematically investigate acts of bioterrorism. Recent years, however, have seen a rapid increase in the use of forensic epidemiology in legal practice. The discipline currently covers a wide range of medicolegal issues, combining principles from epidemiology with those from general medicine, pharmacology, pathology, biostatistics, and biomechanics. These methods developed in (bio)medical sciences are applied to criminal and civil court cases. For example, a forensic epidemiologist may evaluate the causal relationship between an alleged act of medical negligence and an adverse health outcome; or the risk that injury would have occurred, had a driver worn his seat belt.

The practical application of forensic epidemiology also concerns the recognition of improper use of epidemiologic methods in forensic settings. Several wrongful convictions are known to have resulted from incorrect use of expert evidence. A basic understanding of procedural law and conditions for the use of expert testimony are crucial for a proper application of forensic epidemiology in the practice of law.

This is the first international course for jurists and (bio)medical scientists, offering an interdisciplinary approach to legal fact finding. Scientific methods as well as implications for legal procedures will be addressed to provide a broad view of forensic epidemiology. Case-based education and small-scale interactive lectures by experts in their field will help you make the most out of this unique learning opportunity.

Course leader

Prof. Maroeska Rovers
Chair: Evidence Based Surgery

Prof. Bart Kiemeney
Department for Health Evidence

Machteld van Egmond, MSc
PhD candidate of (bio)medical sciences and BSc student of law

Target group

This course is designed for MSc/PhD students and professionals involved in public health, (bio)medical sciences or law enforcement. The course level is fitted to accommodate and challenge participants with different backgrounds. Thus, students and professionals from all disciplines mentioned above are explicitly invited to apply.

Course aim

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of similarities and differences in public health and law enforcement investigative goals and methods;
2. Recognize when to involve the other discipline; coordinate mutual investigations and share information between public health and law enforcement;
3. Identify fallacies resulting from improper use of epidemiologic methods in forensic settings;
4. Understand implications of using forensic expert evidence for procedural law.

Fee info

EUR 660: The fee includes the registration fees, course materials, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, lunch, and a number of social activities.


We offer several reduced fees:
€ 594          early bird discount – deadline 1 April 2018 (10%)
€ 561         partner + RU discount (15%)
€ 495          early bird + partner discount (25%)

Register for this course
on course website