Systematic Reviews 

Spring 2024 (1 unit) 

Rigorous systematic reviews are the gold standard for assessing the effectiveness of clinical and public health interventions. Key systematic review principles and methods can also be applied to other important areas of public health and health care (e.g., prevalence of diseases, qualitative evidence, diagnostic test accuracy). The goal of this course is to provide participants with a grounded theoretical understanding of all major aspects of conducting a high-quality systematic review, focused on the effectiveness of an intervention and exposure to risk factors. Students will develop a brief systematic review protocols (detailed work-plans for systematic reviews). Students will also understand principles of the meta-analysis methods and will have an opportunity to practice on a dataset.


The objectives for this course are for participants to:

  • Be able to develop a research question using PI(E)CO framework, design a brief systematic review protocol, understand the steps for comprehensively searching the scientific literature, steps for identifying relevant studies and extracting data.
  • Understand the basic methods of of meta-analysis and concepts of heterogeneity, publication bias, subgroup and sensitivity analysis and develop analytical skills using a practice dataset.
  • Understand how to appraise systematic review methods and reporting.


Designing Clinical Research (EPI 202). Exceptions to this prerequisite may be made with the consent of the Course Director, space permitting.


Course Director:

Mohsen Malekinejad, MD, DrPH

Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Biostatistics
email: [email protected]


Each week, new material is introduced via a lecture and recommended readings. After beginning to study the lecture and reading, students will apply lessons from the course to develop a brief systematic review protocol. They are also provided with a small dataset and instruction for how to conduct meta-analysis. Students have the opportunity to pose questions to course faculty or prompt discussion on any aspect of the material.

Large Group Discussion:
Time: Thursdays, 1:15 to 2:45 PM, April 4 through May 16.

The syllabus for the quarters dates and times for all activities.


The statistical software package Stata (Stata Corporation, College Station, TX) is used throughout the TICR Program and is required for this course; version 16 or higher is acceptable. A six-month student license for Stata/BE is the least expensive option that will be suitable to complete all course assignments. For students intending to enroll in courses over 1-2 years, an annual or perpetual license are better long-term options. If your research requires working with more variables, you also may wish to consider Stata/SE. We recommend that you have a personal copy of Stata and bring it on a laptop for all course sessions. Stata may be purchased at a discount for UCSF faculty/staff and official UCSF Students. You must use your email address to receive the discount. If you do not purchase your own copy of Stata, UCSF faculty/staff/students may request access to Stata through the UCSF Research Analysis Environment.

All course materials and handouts will be posted on the course's online syllabus.


Grades will be based on total points achieved on takehome assignments, class participation, and presentation. Late assignments will be marked down.

Students not in full-year TICR Programs who satisfactorily pass all course requirements will, upon request, receive a Certificate of Course Completion.

Only UCSF students (defined as individuals enrolled in UCSF degree or certificate programs) will receive academic credit for courses. Official transcripts are available to UCSF students only. A Certificate of Course Completion will be available upon request to individuals who are not UCSF students and satisfactorily pass all course requirements.

UCSF Graduate Division Policy on Disabilities

To Enroll

ATCR and MAS students use the Student Portal

Students taking individual courses:

Course Fees
How to pay (please read before applying)
Only one application needs to be completed for all courses desired during the quarter.

Spring 2024 Course Schedule

Apply by March 31, 2024