This week is the 2nd annual meeting of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. The presentations we'll see, and the conversations we’ll have, were instigated 25 years ago as George Williams and I discussed and grappled with how evolution could be useful for medicine, and what to call the enterprise.  After several hours of discussion, well, it was actually an argument, he convinced me that a grand title was fitting, and Darwinian medicine was the more accurate designation (1). Over the decades, however, evolutionary medicine has become the standard term, and I have consistently encountered questions about what it is, how it works, and why it matters. Here are my current answers to those fundamental questions.

By Randolph M. Nesse
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Cancer is bad. For sure. About 2 in 5 of us will develop cancer in our lifetimes and 1 in 5 of us will die of cancer. So there is no question that cancer is bad. But is cancer all bad? Are there cases where susceptibility to cancer is associated with things that we would...
By Athena Aktipis
“ Do you feel tired ?” asks the silver fox in his outdoor jacket, wind in his hair. He then suggests that you may suffer from low testosterone, which apparently is a serious condition that could be impacting “millions of men.” Evidently the solution, he suggests, is just a...
By Benjamin Trumble
In December 2013, in the village of Meliandou, Guinea, a dangerous pathogen jumped from a bat into a little boy. He may have been playing among the trees where bats roost, coming into contact with bat guano; the details are uncertain. But several days later, as the pathogen...
By Anne Stone
There are more than 7000 rare diseases , also called orphan diseases. How does one decide the threshold for considering a disease to be rare? It depends. One study found more than 296 definitions of “rare disease.” In Europe, a disease is typically considered rare if it affects...
By Melissa A. Wilson Sayres