CEM Videos

NSF-Funded Postdoctoral Researcher 
University of California, Davis
The State of Detection Theory
 
For over 50 years, signal detection theory (aka 'error management theory', the 'smoke detector principle', etc) has been related to behaviours including mate choice, habitat choice, immune function, predators choosing between models and mimics, the evolution of plant defences, and mental illnesses.  I will show that the influential and intuitive predictions of the theory are highly misleading in many biological settings.
 
Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Co-Director, Evolutionary Medicine Program at UCLA
Not Uniquely Human
 
What does a flamingo's heart attack, tiger's breast cancer, or gorilla's eating disorder tell us about human health? Animals share most medical and psychiatric issues with our species. Evolutionary biology and comparative medicine offer illuminating insights into the nature and future of human illness and health.
 
 
 
 
Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Co-Director, Evolutionary Medicine Program at UCLA
Scared to death
 
Human and non-human animals can be scared to death. This commonality points to a shared mechanism and evolutionary origin. The variability in vulnerability to this disorder between species offers a novel approach to identifying a natural animal model for Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) – the leading cause of death among adults over 40 year of age in the United States. The importance and significant challenge of developing a phylogeny of vulnerability to SCD across the animal kingdom is presented.
 
 

Evolutionary medicine asks why natural selection left us with traits that increase vulnerable to diseases. The foci have been on macro traits, such as the size of the birth canal, and micro traits, such as the Apo-e4 allele. However, allostatically stabilized control systems are the essence of life, and control system failures account for most disease. Seeking evolutionary reasons for the vulnerability of cybernetic systems may offer a new horizon for evolutionary medicine. For instance, defense systems whose responsiveness increases after repeated arousal should be vulnerable to runaway positive feedback.  Also, when fitness is maximized at a point close to a cliff on an fitness landscape, minor variations will result in disease for some. This may help to explain the absence of common alleles of large effect for some highly heritable diseases. This symposium will explore these and other evolutionary reasons for the vulnerability of physiological control systems. 

Professor, Department of evolutionary biology and environmental studies
University of Zurich
Searching for a cancer-proof organism: it's the journey that teaches you about the destination 
 
Despite an obvious focus of cancer as a medical phenomenon affecting human lifespan, cancer occurs across multicellular life. I argue that cancer research could benefit from moving from considering other species' cancers as mere models of those of humans to embracing the differences across species, as these dictate the logic of natural selection and its ability to 'see' cancer as a relevant problem in an organism's ecology and life history.
Distinguished University Professor and Sarah Idell Pyle Professor
Department of Anthropology
Case Western Reserve University
Adaptation to high altitude by natives of the Andes, East Africa, and the Tibetan Plateau 
 
The principal stress at high altitude is hypoxia, less than the normal amount of oxygen in the air and, as a result, in the body. An individual at 13,000’ altitude inhales roughly 60% of the oxygen molecules as an individual in Tempe at 1,140’, yet the two individuals burn the same amount of oxygen per unit time.  
Professor, Department of Biology 
Duke University
Evolution and mismatch during the evolution of diet in hominins
 

Environmental and cultural changes imposed major shifts in diet during human origins. The impact of these shifts is apparent in the anatomy, physiology, behavior, and disease susceptibilities of modern humans. The advent of genomic technologies is opening up new ways to identify the genetic basis for these important trait changes, while the development of adult stem cells provides an experimental platform to understand their phenotypic impact.

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
University of Kansas
Flip the script: evolutionary insights from “reversed” sex chromosomes in moths and butterflies
 

Most genetic and genomic research involves animals where females have two copies of the same sex chromosome while males have differentiated sex chromosomes. In other words, females are XX and males are XY, where the Y is a degenerate and gene-poor chromosome. However, some groups of organisms have this situation reversed, where males have two of the same chromosomes and females have the differentiated pair.

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
Evolution of dosage compensation
 

In species with highly heteromorphic sex chromosomes, the degradation of one of the sex chromosomes will result in unequal gene expression between the sexes (e.g., between XX females and XY males) and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Dosage compensation is a process whereby genes on the sex chromosomes achieve equal gene expression. We study dosage compensation in a range of species, and find evidence for independent and convergent mechanisms.

Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Iowa State University, Ames USA
Environmental, genetic, and epigenetic regulation of sex determination and the ecological drivers of its intriguing evolutionary history
 

Why do organisms vary so remarkably in the ways they produce males and females? Sexually-reproducing organisms employ diverse mechanisms to produce males and females, ranging from systems under strict genetic control (GSD) [such as highly dimorphic or undifferentiated sex chromosomes (XY, ZW)], to systems under strict environmental control dependent [such as those dependent on temperature (TSD) as is commonly found in reptiles and fish], or both.

Department of Biology
The University of Iowa
The Origin & Evolution of Meiosis: Old Roots & Exceptional Sex
 

Meiosis is a highly conserved cellular process: indeed, homologs of many meiotic genes are shared across diverse eukaryotic genomes. In order to better understand the evolution and function of meiotic sex, we are investigating genomes from a wide swath of eukaryotic lineages, focusing on those that have biologically unusual sex lives.

Department of Biology
University of Rochester
Long read sequencing reveals the dynamic evolution of Drosophila Y chromosomes
 

Drosophila Y chromosomes tend to be gene-poor, repeat-rich and heterochromatic, yet most are essential for male fertility. Genes traffic on and off the Y chromosomes over evolutionary time, therefore Y-linked gene content can differ between Drosophila species. However, our understanding of Y chromosome dynamics is primarily based on movements of known genes from a single reference species: D. melanogaster.

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The University of Kansas
Sex and the struggle within: How sexual reproduction releases conflict within the genome
 

Sexual reproduction brings together genomes, shuffles them, and creates new individuals that are genetically unique. It is widely believed that sexual reproduction is important for evolution because it allows species to evolve new modes of protection against the onslaught of parasites. However, sexual reproduction also unleashes a form of conflict that is exploited by genetic parasites known as transposable elements.

Department of Biological Sciences
University of Pittsburgh
The secrets of sex-determination in strawberries
 

Sex chromosome evolution is thought to be a universal feature of separate-sexed organisms but our understanding of the process is heavily influenced by animal systems, the majority of which have ancient sex chromosomes. I will present research on species of wild strawberries (Fragaria, Rosaceae) demonstrating that plants not only provide valuable insight into the earliest stages of sex chromosome evolution from autosomes but also offer key parallels to dynamics seen at later stages in animal systems.

Edward P. Bass Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 
Yale University
On the nature of tradeoffs
 

The word tradeoff is loosely applied to connections among traits that arise in several importantly different situations. I will use recent work on the connections between reproductive performance, cancer, and coronary artery disease and between removal of immune organs in children and risk of disease later in life to motivate a general analysis of the diverse natures of tradeoffs.

Professor, Department of Evolutionary Biology
University of Oxford
Social evolution in microbes: from model systems to the microbiome 
 
Since Darwin, evolutionary biologists have been fascinated by cooperative behavior. Honeybee workers labor their whole life without reproducing, birds make alarm calls, and humans often help each other. Much less attention has been paid to the microbes. They exist all around us and inside us, and it has become clear that microbes commonly live in densely interacting communities that have major effects on animals and plants.
Ed Yong, Science Writer
The Atlantic
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
 
Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. They build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. Based on his new book, science writer Ed Yong will take us on an eye-opening and critical look at the science of the microbiome and what it means for our lives. 

Assistant Professor
Department of Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology, Duke University 
How social interactions shape the genome

In social species—including our own—social status and social integration can strongly influence fertility, survival, and other fitness-related traits. I will discuss how our work in nonhuman primates aims to unravel the molecular mechanisms and evolutionary history of these effects. To do so, we study both rhesus macaques in captivity and wild baboons in East Africa.

John Franklin Crowell Professor
Department of Biology, Duke University 
Mechanistic models of metabolic diseases help explain why disease genes are maintained in populations
 
Metabolic diseases are diverse and widespread, and the underlying mechanisms are often sufficiently well understood that it is possible to develop accurate mathematical descriptions of the causal pathway to disease. I will discuss how we construct such models, how we have used them to investigate homeostatic mechanisms, gene– environment interactions, and genotype–phenotype mapping, and how they can be used in precision and personalized medicine.
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of Colorado Denver
The good, the bad, and the maladapted: Prenatal environmental sensitivity in light of evolutionarily novel environments
 
Humans, like other organisms, have evolved to be sensitive to environmental exposures in early life. One system that is particularly sensitive to early environmental contexts is the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA)-axis, an evolutionarily conserved system that organizes an organism’s response to stress.
Research Biologist, Division of Cancer Prevention
National Cancer Institute
Why mammal meat is bad for humans (and only humans)
 

Eating red meat (meat from other mammals) increases our risk for cancer, and for several other diseases resulting from chronic inflammation. This is uniquely true for humans, among all species on earth, and it results from uniquely human quirks of evolution and biochemistry. I’ll explain this.

 

Professor, School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
The roles of social networks in disease transmission and individual decision making using the honey bee as a model 
 
Social insects are highly successful because of the coordination of activities of many individuals. These social networks function in many different contexts, including finding food, defense of a colony and fighting disease. In honey bees, formation of a social network depends on establishing behavioral castes composed of subsets of workers. As workers age they progress through a series of functions for the colony that range from caring for brood and the queen, to cleaning and building the nest, to nest defense and foraging for nectar and pollen. Progression through these tasks is roughly correlated with age and influenced by a worker’s genotype

Professor, Department of Sociology 
Illinois Institute of Technology 
Sociobiology, The Sequel: Conflict about cooperation

In science, the field of evolution seems unusually prone to controversy. A memorable case is the acrimonious, quarter century long academic sociobiology debate around E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology (1975) and Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (1976), which were attacked as scientifically wrong as well as politically motivated. As the sociobiologists kept pleading their innocence, the critics moved their assault to more scientific issues while retaining their political suspicions. We had here complete worldviews in conflict (Defenders of the Truth, Segerstrale, 2000). But now it has happened again! There is now a new sociobiology controversy – initiated by E.O. Wilson himself this time.

Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology
University of Michigan
Mindware: As useful for scientists as it is for everyone else

Scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, logicians and philosophers have developed scores of concepts that are the driving force behind the scientific revolution. They are as useful to laypeople as to scientists. But neither group makes remotely as much use of them as they could. Partly this is because professors don't consider it part of the job description to show how the concepts they teach could be used by fields adjacent to their own -- let alone how they can be valuable for everyday life.

Professor, College of Biological Sciences
University of Minnesota
Models on the Runway: how do we make replicas of the world?
 
Models are universal in science, both as theoretical formulations of reality and as model systems, representatives of other organisms. A recent paper on how scientists view the world divides our work into the mind, the lab, and the field, and suggests that models must not be conflated with reality. But in practice, these distinctions are blurred. 
Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington 
The biological diversity of self: Microchimerism 
 
Microchimerism (Mc) is harboring a small amount of cells or DNA that originated in another genetically distinct individual. Bi-directional maternal-fetal exchange occurs during normal pregnancy and creates a legacy of Mc in both individuals. Mc of maternal origin and, in women of fetal origin, is found in cells of the immune system including T and B lymphocytes, monocyte/macrophages, NK cells and granulocytes.
Distinguished Professor and Department Chair of Biology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
A new interpretation of the life-extending dietary restriction effect 
 
Dietary restriction, the reduction of food intake from the amount that animals would prefer, extends health and life in a diversity of species. Traditionally this “dietary restriction effect” has been interpreted to have evolved as a way to enhance survival and preserve reproduction during periods of naturally-occurring food shortage. 

The Evolution of Goodness, Justice and Empathy

We humans often display acts of kindness and generosity. As it turns out, nonhumans are also good to one another, sacrificing to help those around them.  But why?  Why do both humans and animals show such altruistic, self-sacrificial behavior? Scientists and philosophers have long pondered these questions.  

Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Biology
University of Louisville
Altruism Writ Small: E. coli cells protect one another from antibiotics
 
The evolution of altruism is often referred to as the central paradox of evolutionary biology. My colleagues and I have been studying microbial altruism in E. coli. Altruism in this system involves a cell secreting a substance called beta-lactamase, which breaks down antibiotics, and protects not just the cell secreting this substance, but all cells in the general vicinity. 
Former senior producer and director for BBC Television
Your Body by Darwin 
 

Looking at human disease through the eyes of a Darwinian leads you to fresh, exciting and useful new insights and allows you to frame illness in a more productive way. Jeremy Taylor shows how genetic conflict theory helps to explain why many women experience recurrent miscarriage of their foetuses, why the evolution of cancer can be so drastic it defies the orthodox view that evolution proceeds by gradual change, and how evolutionary theories concerning the role of the immune system are overturning a century-old orthodoxy about what causes Alzheimer’s disease.

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Michigan
High-altitude adaptation to understand complex phenotypes
 
In the field of biological anthropology, high-altitude adaptation is a classic area of research. High-altitude environments, defined as areas lying above 2,500 meters [m] sea-level, challenge the ability of humans to live and reproduce, i.e., adapt and/or acclimatize. Hypoxia is the fundamental challenge that high-altitude sojourners and residents face, necessitating physiological acclimatization and/or genetic adaptation to overcome it.
Professor of Biology
Harvard University
Hot or not? The huddler’s dilemma
 
Huddling for warmth is a simple cooperative behavior. Heat generation within a huddle is a public good with a private cost. Therefore, cooperators are potentially vulnerable to exploitation by free-riders. Behavioral studies in penguins, marmots, rats, and mice illustrate the benefits of huddling and the temptation to defect. Effects of imprinted genes in brown adipose tissue suggest that non-shivering thermogenesis has been an arena for intragenomic conflict.
Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health, and Director of the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM)
Duke University
Is human sleep unique among primates?  An evolutionary perspective on “normal”
 
Scientists have made substantial progress in understanding the evolution of sleep across the Tree of Life, including in primates.  Remarkably, the specifics of sleep along the human lineage have been slow to emerge, which is surprising given our unique mental and behavioral capacity, and the importance of sleep for cognitive performance and health.
Pentz Professor of Biology
Pennsylvania State University
Deciphered Gorilla Y chromosome shows strong conservation with Human but not with Chimpanzee
 
The mammalian Y chromosome plays a critical role in sex determination and male fertility. Yet the Y, enriched in repeats and palindromes, is the most difficult to assemble component of the genome. Previously, expensive and labor-intensive BAC-based techniques were used to sequence the Y for a handful of mammalian species. Among great apes, only human and chimpanzee Y chromosomes were sequenced. Here, using flow-sorting, short- and long-read sequencing technologies, and a variety of assembly algorithms, we produce a draft assembly of the gorilla Y. 
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor
University of California, Berkeley
Activation of enhancer activity in the early drosophila embryo
 
Thirty years after the discovery of the transcriptional enhancers that drive patterned gene expression in animal embryos, we still do not really understand how they work. One mystery is why it is that there are potential transcription factor binding sites everywhere, but only a small fraction of the genome functions as enhancers.
Professor
North Carolina State University 
Lessons from the heart? Valuing the benefits of evolutionary theory to society and the costs of ignoring it 
 
Early in my career I wrote about the limits of life in "Every Living Thing." The book told the story of how much is left to discover and the important role of basic biology, particularly that being done by evolutionary biologists. But after I wrote that book people asked me, "who cares?" Eventually, answering this question of who cares led me to write the book, "The Man Who Touched His Own Heart." Superficially, "The Man Who Tells His Own Heart" is the story of a thousand years of discoveries in our hearts and the women and men who made them. 
John and Rebecca Moores Professor
University of Houston 
The human genome: The imperfection of evolution and the evolution of imperfection
 
Because genomes are products of natural processes rather than “intelligent design,” all genomes contain functional and nonfunctional parts. The fraction of the genome that has no biological function is called “rubbish DNA.” Rubbish DNA consists of “junk DNA,” i.e., the fraction of the genome on which selection does not operate, and “garbage DNA,” i.e., sequences that lower the fitness of the organism, but exist in the genome because purifying selection is neither omnipotent nor instantaneous. 
Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Princeton University
Cutting both ways: Antibodies in health and disease
 
Antibodies confer resistance against infectious diseases and participate in somatic maintenance.  Yet they can also deplete amino acid reserves and cause debilitating autoimmune diseases, when they avidly attack host tissue or accrue at such high densities that they damage organs of filtration.  Antibodies are thus among the many sharp elements of the "double-edged sword" of the mammalian immune system. 
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The University of Michigan 
How fast is evolution?
 
Darwin thought evolution to be slow because geological time is long.  He was right about geological time, but wrong about evolution.  Evolution as a process is fast (we will settle on an empirical number in appropriate units for the time scale of natural selection).  Rates are ratios, with numerators and denominators.  When rates are quantified and compared for different scales of time it becomes clear, counterintuitively, that the denominator is more important than the numerator. 
B. Holly Smith, Associate Research Scientist
University of Michigan
What can teeth tell us about the evolution of life histories?
 
All organisms face the challenge of allocating resources to growth, maintenance and reproduction. Human life history is constructed in some unusual ways that become evident when we compare ourselves to primates and other mammals, combing moderate size with large brains, slow growth and extended juvenile dependence, but a brief duration of nursing infants and the cessation of reproduction before senescence. 
Paul Ewald, Professor
University of Louisville
Toward a unified, evolutionary theory of cancer
 
Discoveries over the past few decades draw attention to the need for a coherent general theory for oncogenesis, one that fully integrates knowledge about the contribution of genetic, environmental and infectious causes. My presentation offers an evolutionary framework for development of a unified theory, building on the distinction between the small number of changes that are essential for oncogenesis to proceed (i.e., alterations of barriers) and the large number of changes that contribute oncogenesis (alterations of restraints). This framework is sufficiently broad to accommodate new information (e.g., the roles of epigenetic changes), is testable, and has implications for research, care, and prevention. 
Eiko Fried, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
University of Leuven
Psychiatric symptomics: a new perspective on mental disorders
 
Why has biological psychiatry been unable to identify biomarkers reliably associated with common psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression—despite three decades of intense research efforts? And why do pharmacological treatments only slightly outperform placebo in many controlled trials? Part of the explanation may be that almost all research studies analyze symptom sum scores instead of data on individual psychiatric symptoms. 

 

Paul Turke, Adjunct clinical faculty 
The University of Michigan 
Why and how we reboot: Some clinical implications 
 
The human immune system reboots every generation. It’s a lifelong process, but much of it is accomplished before birth. Why must we reboot? Because our immune systems senesce, and because germs evolve rapidly. How do we reboot? Largely by a process known as “T cell education,” which works best when it’s done in the fetal thymus. Understanding why and how most T cells go to school while we are as yet unborn suggests strategies that can be used to mitigate the development of allergies, autoimmunity, and infections. 
Susanne Pfeifer, Visiting Scientist
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
The importance of mutation and recombination rate variation - lessons from chimpanzees to lizards
 
Molecular evolution is driven by an interplay of different forces, with the relative importance of natural selection versus genetic drift for example being a debate as old as the field of population genetics itself. However, while indeed an important topic, both forces only act on genetic variation, but do not create it. Mutations, continuously giving rise to new variations in the genome, ultimately underlie both evolutionary adaptations and heritable diseases.

 

Bruce German, Professor, Food Science and Technology
Director, Foods for Health Institute 
University of California, Davis
Lactation and milk: A model for diet and health for all ages
 
Solving the problems of food production, food safety, nourishment and sustainability will require a much more detailed understanding of the complex interplay between human health and food. In effect agriculture must move from the simplifying reductionist principles of chemistry to the integrative principles of biology. As life sciences interrogate organisms in genomic detail, lactation and its remarkable product, milk provide unique insight into the evolution of animals and their food.
Jeff Jensen 
Professor, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
The population genetics of adaptation
 
Understanding the distributions of selective effects of newly arising, segregating, and fixed mutations – central to population genetics over the last century – stands as a major focus of the present and future Jensen Lab. This underlying question has inspired approaches integrating toolsets from computer science, mathematics and statistics with evolutionary biology, medical and ecological genetics, experimental evolution, and population genomics.
Mel Konner
Professor, Department of Anthropology
Emory University
Women After All? Adventures in ‘Natural Superiority’
 

Mel Konner, M.D. and Professor of Anthropology at Emory University presented a talk based on his newest book Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy. Konner argues that in the biological battle of the sexes, women and men fundamentally differ – and women come out on top. He explores the links between evolutionary and neuro-biology, anthropology, psychology, embryology, history, economics and politics. 

Panel participants: Sarah Hrdy, Professor Emerita, UC Davis. Melissa Wilson Sayres, Assistant Professor, Arizona State University. Sally Kitch, Director, Institute for Humantities Research and Regents' Professor, Arizona State University. Kim Hill, Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University. 

Professor, Department of Anthropology
Emory University 
'Paleo' Diet and Lifestyle: After 30 Years, Is There Any Science Left in All the Hype?
 
In 1985 S. Boyd Eaton and Konner published an article in The New England Journal of Medicine called "Paleolithic Nutrition: A Consideration of It's Nature and Current Implications," considered to be among the first contributions to evolutionary medicine.  
ISEMPH Flash talks 
Chair: Marlene Zuk
Last Names A-K
 
*Flash talks are short, rapid oral presentations meant to encourage the listener to view a poster containing comprehensive research and analysis following the flash talk session.
"Caesarean section, tocophobia and evolutionary medicine"
Wenda Trevathan
New Mexico State University
 
Despite a WHO recommendation that caesarean section rates should not exceed 15%, rates as high as 36% are reported for a number of countries, often varying widely within nations. 
"Adrenal puberty, growth, and mucosal immunity in Bolivian adolescents"
Carolyn Hodges-Simeon
Boston University

 

Life history theory suggests that nutritional and disease ecology affects the timing of puberty, and that trade-offs between life history demands are especially acute in resource-limited populations. 

The International Society for Evolution, Medicine and Public Health Inaugural Meeting.

“Evolution and development: From theory and controversy to public policy”
Sir Peter Gluckman FRS
Centre for Human Evolution, Adaptation and Disease, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand 
 

There have been many controversies at the evolutionary-developmental interface, one in particular has been continuing for over 30 year, how to explain why prenatal developmental exposures lead to a greater risk of obesity and non-communicable disease (NCD) in later life.

"Imagination as a core diametric phenotype of autism spectrum and psychotic-affective spectrum conditions: evidence from schizophrenia genetic risk scores"
Bernard Crespi
Simon Fraser University

Complex human social cognition has evolved in concert with risks for psychiatric disorders of social cognition.

"Parent-of-origin gene-dosage effects in the womb may affect physical and mental health later in life"
Jacobus (Koos) Boomsma
University of Copenhagen
 
Genes with parent-of-origin imprints or copy number variation have been proposed to increase/decrease placental provisioning and maternal investment after lactation, driven by the non-zero likelihood that her next child may be a half- rather than full-sibling of the focal offspring. 
"Origin of canine distemper as a reverse zoonosis from human measles: insights from history, evolution and studies of codon usage bias"
Elizabeth Uhl
University of Georgia
 
Human measles virus (HMV) and canine distemper virus (CDV) are closely related morbilliviruses. The first definitive description of canine distemper was made in 1748 by a Spanish scientist traveling in South America. 

"Microchimerism and inclusive fitness"
David Haig
Harvard University

Fetal cells colonize the mother’s body during pregnancy and persist indefinitely. Maternal cells similarly colonize the fetal body.

"Phylomedicine: Evolutionary Lessons and Solutions for Genomic Medicine"
Sudhir Kumar
Institute for Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine (iGEM), Temple University
 
Nature has been the greatest experimenter on Earth for millennia. New mutations continuously arise in personal genomes, with their fate in populations and species primarily determined by the actions of purifying selection, genetic drift, and positive selection.
"An evolutionary medical perspective on shoes"
Daniel Lieberman
Harvard University
 
Although most people think wearing shoes is normal, humans were barefoot for millions of years before the relatively recent invention of footwear.
"Neutral models of microbiome evolution"
Allen Rodrigo
NESCent
 
Much of the research on microbiomes has focused on surveys of microbial diversities across a variety of host species, including humans, with a view to understanding how these microbiomes are distributed across space and time, and how they correlate with host health, disease, phenotype, physiology and ecology. Fewer studies have focused on how these microbiomes may have evolved.
"Pregnancy and lactation physiology may influence women’s Alzheimer’s risk through alterations in immune function"
Molly Fox
University of California Irvine
 
In order to determine what Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) risk may have been in pre-modern human populations, it is necessary to identify how modifiers of AD risk have changed across human history. A major difference between modern and pre-modern human populations is in the amount of time a woman spends pregnant and lactating. 
"Insights into co-evolution of milk and microbes: subsistence strategy predicts glycan profile in breast milk among diverse human populations"
Katie Hinde
Harvard University

Mother’s milk contributes directly and indirectly to the developing mammalian neonate. Milk glycans, specifically milk oligosaccharides, indirectly contribute by influencing microbial colonization of the neonate’s intestinal tract.

"Costs of reproduction in a high fertility and mortality population"
Michael Gurven
University of California, Santa Barbara
 
Sex differences in mortality, health and well-being have been widely documented in populations worldwide. Explanations focus on differences in lifestyle, risk-taking, work patterns, biological frailty and healthcare access.
“Evolution in medicine: Past, present, and future”
Harvey Fineberg, M.D, Ph.D
President, Gordon and Bette Moore Foundation
 
 
Evolutionary biology is fundamental to modern medicine. The field of evolution in medicine is coming of age, as signified by this inaugural meeting of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine and Public Health. This presentation will consider some basic tenets of the field, examine contemporary areas of application of evolutionary principles to medicine and public health, and point to possible future directions for research, clinical applications, and professional education.
"Survey on evolution in health education"
Michael Muehlenbein
Indiana University 
 
 
To understand better how to position evolutionary biology into medical, nursing, public health, and veterinary medicine training programs, four surveys were distributed via email and online advertisements to students and professionals in each of these disciplines.
"Integrating evolutionary science into medical education"
Mark Schwartz
New York University
 
When medical students are stimulated to engage with evolutionary medicine questions, they are fascinated and hungry to learn more.
 
Professor of Anthropology, Integrative Anthropological Sciences Unit Chair
University of California, Santa Barbara
Is cardiovascular disease inevitable? Insights from the Bolivian Amazon
 
Cardiovascular disease accounts for a third of all deaths in the United States and is increasing throughout the developing world. Atherosclerosis has even been identified in ancient mummies, leading some to claim that heart disease is a “serial killer that has been stalking mankind for thousands of years”. 
Elizabeth Borer, Associate Professor
University of Minnesota 
Untangling host nutrition, coinfection and disease risk using grasses as a model system
 
In both ecology and medicine, we often focus our efforts on understanding the interactions between a single pathogen species and a single host species.
ISEMPH Society Meeting 
Officers
  • President: Randolph Nesse
  • Treasurer: Cynthia Beall
  • Secretary: Peter Gluckman

Committees

  • Publications: Andrew Read
  • Meetings: Charlie Nunn
  • Education and Outreach: Mark Schwartz 
  • 2015 Program: Charlie Nunn
ISEMPH Welcome Remarks
Dean Garcia-Pichel and Manfred Laubichler
(On behalf of Provost Page) 
"Evolution in sickness and in health"
Marlene Zuk
University of Minnesota 
 
Has modern life made us sicker, or healthier?
ISEMPH Flash talks 
Chair: Grazyna Jasienska 
 
 
 
“Evolution of zoonosis: Exploring receptor-binding as a viral host range barrier”
Anne Demogines
Scientist for Regulated Products at BioFire Diagnostics, LLC
Omenn Award Winner
 
In wild rodent populations, arenaviruses and the retrovirus MMTV both utilize the host Transferrin Receptor 1 (TfR1) for cellular entry.
 
“Evolutionary conflicts shape host nutritional immunity”
Matthew Barber 
Postdocotral Fellow, Elde Lab
University of Utah School of Medicine 
 
The sequestration of essential metals by host proteins provides an innate immune defense termed nutritional immunity.
ISEMPH Flash Talks
Chair Anne: Stone 
Last names Q-Z
Gül Dölen, Department of Neuroscience
John Hopkins University 
Social reward: Basic mechanisms and Autism Pathogenesis
 
Social behaviors in species as diverse as honey bees and humans promote group survival but often come at some cost to the individual. Although reinforcement of adaptive social interactions is ostensibly required for the evolutionary persistence of these behaviors, the neural mechanisms by which social reward is encoded by the brain are largely unknown.

 

"Trade-offs between reproduction and aging: biomarkers, confounders and genetic factors" 
Grazyna Jasienska
Jagiellonian University
 
 
Factors related to fertility play crucial, but often unappreciated, role in influencing health, aging and lifespan of women.
"Challenging the inevitability of prostate enlargement: low levels of benign prostatic hyperplasia among Tsimane forager-horticulturalists"
Benjamin Trumble
University of California, Santa Barbara
 
 
Often considered an inevitable part of male aging, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the most common non-life threatening disease to affect men in Western populations.
"Timing of antimicrobial use influences the evolution of antimicrobial resistance during disease epidemics"
Carl Bergstrom
University of Washington 
 
 
Normal anxiety is considered an adaptive response to the possible presence of danger, but it appears highly susceptible to dysregulation.
"How much antibiotic? The problem of treating patients while minimizing resistance evolution."
Andrew F. Read
Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics
Pennsylvania State University
 
 
Physicians frequently implore patients to keep taking antibiotics long after they feel better.
"Assisted Reproduction Technology –Risks From Bypassing The Evolutionary Norm of Cryptic Female Choice?"
Gagneux Pascal
University of California, San Diego 
 
 
Over five million children have been conceived by assisted reproductive technology (ART) since the first live birth from in vitro fertilization in 1978.
"Mycobacterium tuberculosis: origins and evolutionary history of a major pathogen."
Anne Stone
School of Human Evoltion and Social Change
Arizona State University 
 
Tuberculosis has profoundly altered the course of human history.
Disease differences between humans and other hominids
Ajit Varki
University of California, San Diego
 
Comparative medicine has a long and strong tradition, in which studies of naturally occurring diseases in other animals has shed much light on the origins and pathophysiology of human ailments.
"Developmental constraints in a wild primate"
Jenny Tung 
Duke University 
 
Early life experiences can dramatically affect traits expressed in adulthood, but the evolutionary origins of such effects are debated.
"Cancer as somatic cheating: Resource acquisition and monopolization in multicellularity and cancer"
C. Athena Aktipis
Arizona State University 
 
Cancer can be understood as a problem of cheating in the multicellular body. 
"Insights from the population genetics of cancer suppression."
Leonard Nunney
University of California, Riverside
 

Evolutionary theory makes strong predictions about the nature and effectiveness of cancer suppression across different species, with size and longevity being critical parameters.

"The evolutionary dynamics of transmissible cancers"
Beata Ujvari
Centre for Integrative Ecology
Deakin University
 
Transmissible cancers constitute an example of cancer evolution par excellence: processes akin to Darwinian selection drive individual cancer cells along evolutionary landscapes culminating in resistant, invasive, and ultimately immortal cancer phenotypes.
"Are there tradeoffs between reproductive competitiveness and cancer susceptibility?"
Amy M. Boddy
Department of Psychology
Arizona State University
 
Species differ in their susceptibility to cancer but the underlying mechanisms and evolutionary pressures are not yet well understood.
"Metastatic lineages can arise early and exhibit multiple genetic origins within primary tumors"
Jeffrey Townsend 
Department of Biostatistics
Yale University
 
It has long been understood that tumorigenesis is an evolutionary process associated with the accumulation of somatic mutations.
"Using evolution and ecology to develop universal biomarkers for cancers"
Carlo Maley
School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
 
 
The somatic evolution that drives neoplastic progression and therapeutic resistance has made it difficult to develop reliable biomarkers in cancer.
"Diversion hypothesis: how the paternally controlled placenta avoids maternal rejection of invasive trophoblasts and ushers in increased human birth weight and brain size."
Harvey Kliman
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
Yale University
 
 
Humans have the largest newborn to adult size ratio of all animals.
"Extrinsic mortality risk and socioeconomic differences in health" 
Gillian Pepper
Centre for Behaviour and Evolution
Newcastle University 
 
 
Evolutionary theoretical models have predicted that extrinsic, but not intrinsic, personal mortality risk should alter the payoff from investment in health protection behaviours.
"Variability in maternal cortisol levels during very early gestation is associated with children’s postnatal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity"
Pablo A Nepomnaschy
Faculty of Health Sciences and Human Evolutionary Studies Program
Simon Fraser University
 
 
Maternal stress during gestation may affect in utero programming of the stress or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA) with consequences for childdevelopment and subsequent disease susceptibility.
"Live fast if you’re going to die young: Decision making shifts as a function of vulnerability to infection" 
Marjorie Prokosch 
Texas Christian University 
 
 
 Life history theory predicts that preferences for risk and delay of gratification will be influenced by cues in the environment that influence one’s mortality risk.
"Depicting population structure and adaptive events along the Italian Peninsula: implications for susceptibility to diseases" 
Marco Sazzini
Department of Biological, Geological & Environmental Sciences
University of Bologna, Italy
 
Anthropological Evolutionary Genomics; Human Adaptation, Population Structure, Genome Wide Association Studies Due to its pivotal geographical position, the Italian Peninsula has long represented a natural hub for human migrations, enabling direct connection between the Mediterranean basin and several continental European regions.
"Phenotypes and the fertility of Tibetan women residing at high altitude in Nepal"
Cynthia M. Beall
Anthropology Department
Case Western Reserve University
 
Reproduction and survival of offspring are central to evolution and adaptation. Understanding how these events play out in real populations is important for understanding the pace at which evolution and adaptation may occur.
"The evolution and biomedical implications of human deletion variants shared with archaic hominin genomes"
Omer Gokcumen
State University of New York at Buffalo
 
Allele sharing between modern and archaic hominin genomes has been variously interpreted to have originated from ancestral genetic structure or through non-African introgression from archaic hominins.
"Zoobiquity and evolutionary medicine"
Barbara Natterson - Horowitz, M.D
Division of Cardiology
University of California, Los Angeles
 
The most common and deadly conditions challenging physicians and patients today are neither uniquely human, nor are they unique to our modern times.
"Identifying normal function in abnormal results: Reaction norms lead to a new normal for medical practice"
Joe Alcock
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of New Mexico
 
Physicians use departures from normal values in vital signs and biomarkers to discriminate between health and disease, often with the goal of restoring values to normal ranges.
"The perils of plasticity"
Randolph M. Nesse
Center for Evolution & Medicine, School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
 
Mechanisms that regulate facultative responses are especially prone to cause problems for several reasons
"Does anxiety keep you safe? Evidence from seven large European population-based cohorts." 
William Lee
Centre for Clinical Trials and Population Studies, Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry
Plymouth University
 
Raised trait anxiety appears to be beneficial to animals but what about humans?
"Adaptive behavior produces maladaptive anxiety" 
Frazer Meacham
University of Washington
 
Normal anxiety is considered an adaptive response to the possible presence of danger, but it appears highly susceptible to dysregulation.
"The impact of the sex ratio on health patterns in modern human populations"
Daniel J. Kruger
University of Michigan
 
The relative proportions of potentially reproductive males and females in a population influence behavioral dynamics related to reproduction.
"Population genomics of sex chromosome evolution"
Melissa A. Wilson Sayres
School of Life Sciences, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Arizona State University
 
There is tremendous sexual dimorphism in human genetic disease susceptibility, progression, and drug response.
"Shining evolutionary light on human sleep and sleep disorders"
Charles L. Nunn
Department of Evolutionary Anthropology Duke Global Health Institute
Duke University
 
Sleep is essential to cognitive function and health in humans, yet the ultimate reasons for sleep – i.e., why sleep evolved – remain mysterious.
"Does individual natural variation in ovarian steroid concentrations predict variation in lifetime reproductive success? An empirical test using longitudinal data from a natural fertility population."
Virginia J. Vitzthum
Department of Anthropology, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction
Indiana University
 
It is widely assumed that, absent pathology and various stressors, natural variation in ovarian steroid concentrations within and between human populations is positively associated with variation in individual lifetime reproductive success, but this assumption has yet to be empirically evaluated.
"A different kind of cooperative breeding: roundworm infection increases odds of conception in human females" 
Aaron D. Blackwell
Department of Anthropology, Tsimane Health and Life History Project, San Borja, Bolivia
University of California, Santa Barbara
 
Helminth infection causes TH2 biasing of immune responses, with effects on autoimmunity, microbiota, and health such that some refer to helminths as “old friends”
"Medicine, evolutionary medicine and conceptual change within evolutionary biology" 
Tatjana Buklijas
Liggins Institute
University of Auckland
 
Since the nineteenth century, the relationship between medicine and evolution has gone through peaks and troughs.
"Integrating evolutionary insights within baccalaureate public health programs" 
Bria Dunham
Department of Health Sciences
Boston University
 
Baccalaureate public health programs in the United States have rapidly proliferated under a cluster of program titles including health science, global health, community health, and more.
"Challenges of first-time teaching Evolutionary Medicine at a medical school" 
Patricia H. Brito
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Nova Medical School
 
The principles of evolution are finding their way into the curricula of medical schools worldwide.
"Evolutionary theory in public health program planning: a pragmatic step forward"
Emerald Snow
Community Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health; Latin American Studies Interdepartmental Program
University of California, Los Angeles 
 
Evolutionary academics have long advocated for the application of evolutionary theory to medicine and public health, yet the bridge between research and practice appears wide (Gibson & Lawson, 2014; Nesse & Stearns, 2008).
"Expanding the Understanding of Evolution by Medical Students via a Student-Run Interest Group"
Michelle Blyth
New Orleans School of Medicine
Louisiana State University 
 
In order to grow emerging physicians’ understanding and application of evolution and medical research, an evolutionary medicine interest group was founded by a first year medical student at Louisiana State University School of Medicine at New Orleans (LSUSOM-NO). 
"Only the “necessary things”: the evolution of medical education alongside epidemiological shifts in burden of disease"
Katherine van Schaik
Harvard Medical School, Department of the Classics, Institute for Evolutionary Medicine 
Harvard University, University of Zurich 
 
Two thousand years ago, a Greek physician proclaimed that he would teach medical students only the “necessary things”.
Director, The Centre for Social Evolution Professor,
Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen
Commitment in social life, sex, and symbiosis
 
 
All organisms are designed by natural selection to maximize inclusive fitness, but we need to deconstruct Hamilton’s rule to explain the evolutionary origin of eusocial colonies with permanently unmated and morphologically differentiated castes. Life-time monogamy appears to have been a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for achieving such major eusociality transitions in the ants, corbiculate bees, vespine wasps and higher termites.
“What is a disease?”
Ruslan Medzhitov, Ph.D
Yale University School of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Yale University
 
Human diseases are highly heterogeneous in terms of epidemiology, age-dependence, chronicity, recovery and mortality rates.
“What is a patient?”
Stephen C. Stearns
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Yale University
 
 
Because they evovled, patients are not machines designed by engineers with replaceable parts. 
Associate Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of New Mexico
Allies or enemies? Gut microbiota and the war on fat
 
 
The human gut microbiota has been described as a “forgotten organ” that is essential to human health and happiness. Evidence suggests that commensal microbes are protective against allergy, nutrient deficiency, and certain infections. However, not all interactions between vertebrates and their microbes are friendly. 
Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Institute of Behavioral Genetics
University of Colorado Boulder
Evolution and the tenetic architecture of schizophrenia
 
 Molecular genetic evidence for complex traits such as schizophrenia has accumulated rapidly over the last five years.
Professor of Integrative Biology
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-Zurich
Parasites, hosts, and the crux of diversity
 
Co-evolution of hosts and parasites happens on a fast scale. Key characteristics of their ecological interaction is diversity in host defenses and parasite strategies. Our case study illustrates diversity in genes, expression, and in symbionts, the microbiota on the host side, against the background of diversifying parasite populations.
Seth Bordenstein 
Vanderbilt University 
The microbiome and Darwin's mystery of mysteries
 
The life sciences rest on a new footing in which symbiotic microbes are recognized as fundamental to nearly every aspect of host form, function, and fitness. As a result, today's challenge is to unite Mendelian genetics and symbiosis in our general models and experiments of animal and plant evolution.
Presidential Research Professor
Assistant professor of Anthropology
University of Oklahoma
Reconstructing our ancient microbial self: the evolutionary ecology of the human microbiome
 
The advent of high throughput metagenomic sequencing has revealed a startling fact - that our bodies are not merely ourselves. Microorganisms comprise 90% of our cells, contain 99% of our genes, and perform vital functions in digestion, immunity, and homeostasis. And while we have made great strides in revealing the diversity, variation, and evolution of the human genome, we know surprisingly little about the microbial portion of ourselves, our microbiome.
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of South Carolina
Epidemics past and present: What historic diseases tell us about future threats
 
The current devastating outbreak of Ebola has focused the world’s attention on the dangers of emerging infectious diseases. Dozens of diseases have emerged in recent decades, and researchers have primarily focused their attention on determining when, where, and why new diseases will emerge. However, emerging diseases are not just a recent phenomenon in human populations. 
Professor of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Medicine Co-Director, Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA) Co-Director, Glycobiology Research and Training Center (GRTC)
University of California San Diego
Adventures in anthropogeny: from molecules to mind
 
The surfaces of all vertebrate cells are covered with a dense and complex array of glycan chains that often terminate in sialic acids, which serve diverse roles in biology, evolution, and disease. We have discovered multiple differences in sialic acid biology between humans and our closest evolutionary cousins, the “great apes”––signatures of events during the last few million years of hominin evolution, that appear relevant to understanding multiple aspects of human origins, physiology and disease.
Professor of evolutionary biology
Simon Fraser University
Where Darwin Meets Freud: Evolutionary Biology and Genetics of Autism, Psychosis, and the Social Brain 
 
Mental disorders are usually conceptualized in terms of pathology and disease. I describe a new  perspective, based in evolutionary biology and genetics, that  the forms and risks of human psychiatric conditions have evolved. Under this rubric, such  conditions represent  hypo-development, or  hyper-development, of human­ evolved adaptations and tradeoffs.

A panel discussion, what can ASU do? 

  • Andrew Read, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics
  • Sudhir Kumar, Director of the ASU Center for Evolutionary Medicine and Bioinformatics
  • Mark Flinn, Chair of Anthropology, University of Missouri Bernard Crespi, Professor of Biology, Simon Fraser Institute
  • Anne Stone, ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change
  • Cynthia Stonnington, Mayo Clinic William Aird, Harvard Medical School
  • Randolph M. Nesse, Moderator, and Director of the ASU Center for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health
Professor of entomology, Eberly College of Science Distinguished Senior Scholar, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics
Pennsylvania State University
The Evolution of Drug Resistance and the Curious Orthodoxy of Aggressive Chemotherapy
 
The evolution of drug-resistant pathogens is a major challenge for 21st century medicine. Drug use practices vigorously advocated as resistance management tools by professional bodies, public health agencies, and medical schools represent some of humankind's largest attempts to manage evolution. It is our contention that these practices have poor theoretical and empirical justification for a broad spectrum of diseases.
Professor and chair of anthropology
University of Missouri
Hormones in the wild: Physiological adaptations for human social relationships
 
 
We humans are highly sensitive to our social environments. Our brains have special abilities such as empathy and social foresight that allow us to understand each other’s feelings and communicate in ways that are unique among all living organisms. Our bodies use internal chemical messengers – hormones and neurotransmitters – to help guide responses to our social worlds. Understanding this chemical language is important for many research questions in anthropology.
Director of Strategic Clinical Affairs, GTx Inc. 
Novel Approaches to the Lethal Resistance of Advanced Prostate Cancer: Stressing the Cancer Microenvironment
 
 
 Previously, he was Director of Research of the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute and Professor of Urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Associate Professor Director of the Center for Evolution and Cancer, 
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, 
University of California, San Francisco
What elephants and evolution have to teach us about cancer
 
 
Cancers are dramatic examples of multi-level selection. Because cancers can damage and kill their hosts, there has been selection at the organismal level to suppress cancer. However, natural selection at the cellular level generates cancer. I will illustrate these two levels of selection with two stories from our research.
Alumni Professor in the Biological Sciences, 
Director, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, 
Evan Pugh Professor, Pennsylvania State University
Pathogen evolution in a vaccinated world
 
Vaccines alter the immune landscape experienced by pathogens, and hence their evolution, by targeting subsets of strains in a population, reducing the number of fully susceptible individuals, and creating or expanding classes of semi-immune hosts. The great success of vaccination against the acute childhood occurred without being undermined by pathogen evolution, but those diseases were easy targets: natural immunity was evolution-proof; all vaccination needed to do was to induce something very similar.
Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland 
Author
How Much is too Much: Are Modern Women Above the Norm for Levels of Reproductive Hormones?
 
Reproductive hormones are important not only for fertility but also for many aspects of women's health. Substantial variation in hormone levels is observed among individual women and among populations because these hormones are influenced by numerous factors, such as physical activity, weight change and developmental conditions. How do we know what is "normal" and what is outside the norm when it comes to hormone levels? 
Department of Anthropology
Northwestern University 
You Are What You Eat
 
"You are what you eat" is a well-known refrain that reminds us of the links between what we eat and our health. Although there is unquestionably truth to this concept, it is now clear that our health is not only a product of what we eat, but also what was eaten in the past by our recent ancestors – and in particular, by our mothers.
Professor
Harvard Medical School
Galen, Hagfish,and the Bench-to-Bedside Gap in Endothelial Biomedicine: A Noisy Affair
 
Dr. Aird completed medical school and internal residency training in Toronto, Canada.