Biological and cultural influences on disease

Published on June 15, 2015   47 min

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Other Talks in the Series: Human Population Genetics II

Hello. I'm Connie Mulligan. I'm a professor in the Department of Anthropology and also Associate Director of the Genetics Institute at the University of Florida. And in this lecture I'm going to talk about biological and cultural influences on disease. I'm a Human Geneticist and I'm trained in molecular and population genetics. However, I've been in an Anthropology Department for the past 15 years. And this is given me an appreciation for the value of including non-genetic data, such as cultural data, and in investigation of human health and disease. I work with cultural anthropologists in our department in my research, and I'll talk some about that research in this lecture. But first, I'll give some background information on different types of disease and how they have different causative and risk factors. Then I'll talk about some of my research that combines genetic, biological, and cultural data to provide a comprehensive investigation into specific diseases. My research takes a very broad perspective in order to encompass more of the full range of factors that influence particular types of disease. In other words, diseases that have biological and cultural influences. These types of diseases are called complex diseases. I'm also interested in racial health disparities, because they're both biological and cultural influences on racial health disparities.
What is a disease? If we're going to talk about what causes diseases, we have to be sure we understand exactly what a disease is. Wikipedia says, "A disease is a particular abnormal, pathological condition that affects part or all of an organism." This definition makes it sound black and white. You either have a disease or you don't. In reality, the transition from healthy state to disease state, at least in some cases, can be gradual or progress slowly. So that it's not always apparent exactly when someone develops a disease.

Biological and cultural influences on disease

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