Evolutionary medicine

Published on June 22, 2023   50 min

A selection of talks on Immunology & Inflammation

Please wait while the transcript is being prepared...
Hello everyone and welcome to this talk providing an overview of evolutionary medicine. I'm Randy Nesse from the University of Michigan and Arizona State University, and the editor of this Henry Stewart Talks series of over 50 talks about evolutionary medicine. It's not possible to do justice to the field at this point. It's grown so fast and there are so many interesting developments. But I will provide some highlights that I hope will help organize your attention to the other talks in the series.
Evolutionary medicine sounds like it's something radical or alternative or a new practice method. It's none of those things. It's just a basic science for medicine like genetics or physiology. Evolutionary medicine uses the basic science of evolutionary biology to better understand, prevent, and treat disease. You would think this would have been done long ago. But one of the very surprising things that we're going to discover in this talk is evolutionary biology has basically been neglected by medicine and a huge opportunity therefore awaits.
This diagram shows evolutionary biology as the basic science, medicine as the applied field with evolutionary medicine in between. But those arrows are significant also, it's not a one-way street just using basic science to medicine. It's also the fact that studying diseases offers deep insights into the nature of why biological systems fail, which advances studies in evolutionary biology.
The field has grown enormously fast. George Williams and I wrote a paper grandly titled. It was his idea with the grand title there, the Dawn of Darwinian Medicine in 1991. You can see the scholar citations increasing exponentially and they continue to do so in recent years. There's now a scientific society, the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, having its eighth annual meeting this year; an Oxford Press journal, Evolution Medicine and Public Health, it's open access. EvMedEd is a series of resources, the Evolution of Medicine Review is a newsletter, and club EvMedEd is a journal club that meets regularly. If you find all this interesting, you can go to evmed.org and sign up for newsletters and other resources. Henry Stewart Talks has made a lot of this possible and growing faster.