Complex Genetics and Epidemiology

Forensic Epidemiology

The discipline of forensic epidemiology is a hybrid of principles and practices common to both forensic medicine and epidemiology. FE is directed at filling the gap between clinical judgment and epidemiological data for determinations of causality in civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution and defense. Forensic epidemiologists formulate evidence-based probabilistic conclusions about the type and quantity of causal association between an antecedent harmful exposure and an injury or disease outcome in both populations and individuals. The conclusions resulting from an FE analysis can support legal decision-making regarding guilt or innocence in criminal actions, and provide an evidentiary support for findings of causal association in civil actions. Applications of forensic epidemiologic principles are found in a wide variety of types of civil litigation, including cases of medical negligence, toxic or mass tort, pharmaceutical adverse events, medical device and consumer product failures, traffic crash-related injury and death, person identification and life expectancy.

Team leader

Michael Freeman, MD, PhD

The ongoing research projects

  • Development of the principles of evidence-based reporting in forensic medicine (PERFORM)
  • Forensic Epidemiology: Principles and Practices (FOREPID)
  • Injury causation analysis: Methods for estimating the base rate of symptomatic conversion of degenerative conditions
  • National trends in police use of force-related hospital admissions in the United States
  • Forensic epidemiologic analysis of the reliability of injury patterns in death investigation
  • An evaluation of the diagnostic accuracy of pediatric fracture patterns as a proxy for abuse
  • Characteristics of cervical spinal disk injuries of traumatic etiology
  • Science in Court 

PhD programmes

E8: (Michael Freeman)

Last 5 publications

  1. Meilia, P.D.I., et al., A review of the diversity in taxonomy, definitions, scope, and roles in forensic medicine: implications for evidence-based practice. Forensic Sci Med Pathol, 2018.
  2. Zeegers, M., M. Bours, and M. Freeman, Methods used in forensic epidemiological analysis, in Forensic Epidemiology: principles and practices, M. Zeegers and M. Freeman, Editors. 2016, Elsevier: London.
  3. Faure, M., et al., The role of the expert witness, in Forensic Epidemiology: principles and practices, M. Zeegers and M. Freeman, Editors. 2016, Elsevier: London.
  4. Siegerink B, den Hollander W, Zeegers M, Middelburg R. Causal Inference in Law: An Epidemiological Perspective. European journal of Risk Regulation 2016; 1: 175-86
  5. Freeman, M.D. and M.P. Zeegers, Principles and applications of forensic epidemiology in the medicolegal setting. Law Probability and Risk, 2015. 14(4): p. 269-278.