Evolutionary Physiology

Launched February 2016 Updated April 2020 18 lectures

The premise of this series exploits the concept that the mechanisms of multicellular physiology evolved from unicellular organisms and their interactions, giving insight to how and why physiology evolved as an integrated whole. This is in contrast to the way physiology is currently perceived, as an association of loosely related... read moreparts without a raison d’etre. For example, rather than the conventional way in which homeostasis is perceived as a ‘snapshot’ for maintaining the integrity of the organism, the cellular approach focuses on homeostasis as the organizing principle for life. Complex life emerged in a series of transitions of individuality—e.g., molecules within simple cells, simple cells within complex cells, complex cells within multicellular organisms. In each transition, conflicts among lower-level units had to be mediated. Co-opted features of lower-level units produced conflict mediation and ultimately homeostasis. The recognition that structural and functional relationships emerged from selection for homeostatic mechanisms further illuminates central concepts. Concepts such as the life cycle, endothermy, pleiotropy, reproduction, and others will be examined in the context of cellular mechanisms, offering a mechanistically-based, scale-free continuum from development to homeostasis, regeneration and death for the first time. As a result of the fundamental understanding of physiology, predictive models for hypothesis testing can be generated for stability and change at all levels, from the zygote to the organism.
The audience will gain an understanding of physiologic principles based on First Principles. This perspective will enable them to devise ways of ‘trouble-shooting’ their own biologic problems.

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