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Below are new open access articles just published in Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health

Clinical Brief:

  • Karen Rosenberg and
  • Wenda Trevathan

Evolutionary obstetrics.

EMPH eou025 doi:10.1093/emph/eou025 first published online November 11, 2014 (1 pages)

Original Research Article:

  • C. Athena Aktipis,
  • Bruce J. Ellis,
  • Katherine K. Nishimura,
  • and Robert A. Hiatt

Modern reproductive patterns associated with estrogen receptor positive but not negative breast cancer susceptibility

EMPH eou028 doi:10.1093/emph/eou028 first published online November 10, 2014 (21 pages)


It has long been accepted that modern reproductive patterns are likely contributors to breast cancer susceptibility because of their influence on hormones such as estrogen and the importance of these hormones in breast cancer. We found that modern reproductive patterns of later age of first birth and lower parity were associated with ER-positive but not ER-negative breast cancer. Thus, the evolutionary mismatch hypothesis for breast cancer can account for ER-positive breast cancer susceptibility but not ER-negative breast cancer.

  • Mark M. Tanaka,
  • Benjamin M. Althouse,
  • and Carl T. Bergstrom

Timing of antimicrobial use influences the evolution of antimicrobial resistance during disease epidemics

EMPH eou027 doi:10.1093/emph/eou027 first published online November 5, 2014 (23 pages)


How can antimicrobial drugs be deployed optimally during infectious disease epidemics? Our mathematical models show it is optimal to delay treatment to maximize successful treatments. In formulating policy, however, this must be balanced against the risk of incorrectly predicting the peak of an epidemic.

Clinical Brief:

  • Joe Alcock and
  • Edmund K. LeGrand


EMPH eou026 doi:10.1093/emph/eou026 first published online November 5, 2014 (1 pages)

Evolutionary Medicine Conference: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Human Health and Disease

July 30 – August 1, 2015 at the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine (IEM)University of Zurich, Switzerland


This international conference will bring together distinguished keynote speakers as well as experts from different research areas (including medicine, anthropology, molecular/evolutionary biology, paleopathology, archaeology, epidemiology, and other fields) to debate on the evolutionary origins of diseases and on how the past informs the present and the future. Furthermore, specific implications of such interdisciplinary research in the understanding and management of human health issues will be addressed.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers (by July 2014):

  • Harald zur Hausen (2008 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine)
  • Gillian Bentley (Durham University, UK)
  • Stephen Stearns (Yale University, USA)
  • Wenda Trevathan (New Mexico State University, USA)
  • Maciej Henneberg (University of Adelaide, AUS)
  • Randolph Nesse (Arizona State University, USA)
  • Ruth Mace (University College London, UK)
  • Provisional: Paul Turner (Yale University, USA)

Timeline (preliminary):

  • Oct 2014: Official Conference Webpage online
  • Oct 2014: Abstract submission and Registration open
  • Feb 2015: Abstract submission deadline
  • Jul 2015: Registration Deadline


The International Society for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health will hold its inaugural meeting March 19-21 in Tempe, Arizona. Early registration and abstract submissions until December 1st. Early registrants receive a substantial discount, and all fees are refundable until February 15th.

This meeting will bring together scientists, scholars, teachers, clinicians, and students in the evolution and medicine community to share ideas and create new connections that will advance the field. This will be the first large open meeting designed to bridge the many different disciplines (e.g. infectious disease, parasitology, primatology, public health, genetics, anthropology, psychology, etc.) where relevant research takes place. Students and clinicians with an interest in the field are especially welcome.The format will include invited speakers, shorter presentations, discussion groups and poster sessions. This meeting is co-sponsored by The Society and the Arizona State University Center for Evolution & Medicine. For full meeting information, please visit EvMedMeeting.org.  More than half of the available number of registrations available have already been filled.

Crucial dates
  • December 1 , 2014  Deadline for abstract submissions and early registration
  • January 10, 2015  Deadline for student travel award applications
  • January 2015  Notification of abstract acceptance and student travel awards
  • February 15, 2015   Last day for full refund of registration fees
  • March 18, 12 pm – 5 pm Pre-meeting for directors of evolutionary medicine programs.
  • March 19-20, 2015  The meeting at Tempe Mission Palms Hotel in Tempe Arizona.

Click here for full meeting information

Click here to register now

Plenary Speakers

  • Harvey Fineberg Institute of Medicine
  • Stephen Stearns Yale University
  • Barbara Natterson-Horowitz UCLA
  • Sir Peter Gluckman University of Auckland
  • Ruslan Medzhitov Yale University
  • Ann Demogines (Omenn Award Winner) BioFire Diagnostics

Confirmed participants include:  Carl Bergstrom, University of Washington  |  Sudhir Kumar, Temple University  |  Daniel Lieberman, Harvard University  | Gilbert Omenn, University of Michigan  Allen Rodrigo, NESCent  |  Frank Rühli, University of Zurich  |  Elizabeth Uhl, University of Georgia  | Robert Perlman, University of Chicago  |  Ajit Varki, UC San Diego  | Gillian Bentley, Durham University | Bernard Crespi, Simon Fraser University  |  David Haig, Harvard University  | Andrew Read, Penn State University | Mark Schwartz, New York University  |  Marlene Zuk, University of Minnesota  |  Cynthia Beall, Case Western University  |  Charles Nunn, Duke University | Randolph Nesse, Arizona State University  |  Carlo Maley, UCSF  |  Athena Aktipis, UCSF |  Wenda Trevathan, New Mexico State University  | Matthew Keller, University of Colorado, Boulder  |  Lewis Wolpert, University College London | Joshua Schiffman, University of Utah | Joseph Alcock, University of New Mexico  |  Kathleen Barnes, Johns Hopkins University | Fabio Zampieri, University of Padua, Italy  | Michael Ruse, Florida State University | Detlev Ganten, World Health Summit, Berlin | Grazyna Jasienska, Jagellonian University, Poland  |  Beverly Strassmann, University of Michigan  |  Daniel Blumstein, UCLS Mark Flinn, University of Missouri  |  Koos Boomsma, University of Copenhagen




Proposals for Catalysis Meetings in Evolutionary Medicine are now being accepted at The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). We are looking to support innovative approaches to outstanding problems, specifically in areas realted to evolutionary medicine. Appropriate areas of inquiry include any field of evolutionary science that is relevant to medicine, or to human or animal health. Continue Reading »

Research Grants in the broader field of Evolutionary Medicine available at the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine IEM (Medical Faculty), University of Zurich (Switzerland).  The IEM grant 2015 application submission is open until Dec 1, 2014. Find more information in the attached call for submissions or onhttp://www.iem.uzh.ch/research/iemgrant.html.


Arizona State University: Two tenure track positions. Closing date, December 1, 2014

The ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change invite applications for up to two tenure-eligible faculty positions in a transformative research and teaching initiative that will establish evolutionary biology as a crucial basic science for medicine and public health. Appointment may be at the assistant or associate level. Rank and tenure status will be commensurate with experience. Research areas may include topical focus on the implications for health of one or more of the following: diet/metabolism, the developmental origins of human disease, behavior, reproduction/development, environmental exposures, life history, and ecological conditions in small scale societies. These topics can be in reference to current and past epidemics and/or diseases of modern environments.  https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/4835


Open access publishing in Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health remains free through the end of 2014.  Submit now to avoid substantial publication charges in 2015.  The journal web site is at http://emph.oxfordjournals.org/       Click on Instruction to Authors for information on the types of articles published and how to submit them.

This Oxford University Press Journal, edited by Stephen Stearns, is particularly interested in original research articles.

The journal also welcomes proposals for review articles and Clinical Briefs (a new type of article pioneered at EMPH). If you have an idea for a review paper, or know of one that your colleagues are considering, please contact the Reviews Editor, Bernie Crespi (crespi@sfu.ca).

If you know of a book relevant to evolutionary medicine that you would like to see reviewed, please contact Steve Austad (austad@uthscsa.edu).  He can arrange to have it shipped directly to the chosen reviewer.


Recently, I heard the latter portions of the radio version of a play, “Lucy” by Damien Atkins, relating to autism and produced by L.A. Theatre Works.  “Lucy” was originally performed and reviewed as long ago as November of 2007, but I was not aware of it until I encountered the production for radio about one week ago.  The plot revolves around a couple (Vivian and Gavin) with a daughter (Lucy) who is 13 years old and has a severe form of autism.  Of particular interest for the EMR readership is how Lucy’s mother, Vivian, views the relationship between the direction of human evolution and the prevalence of autism and the need for individuals with autism to receive therapy. Continue Reading »

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After posting my last commentary on the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, I listened to the netcast, This Week in Virology (www.twiv.tv), for September 14, 2014.  TWiV sessions, hosted by Vincent Racaniello, a well-known virologist at Columbia University, are generally highly informative, typically offering thoughtful discussions about recently published studies pertaining to viruses or addressing broad areas of virus-related research. Continue Reading »

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Evolutionary Medicine Catalysis Meetings at NESCent in Durham, NC

Proposals for Catalysis Meetings in  Evolutionary Medicine are now being accepted at The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). We are looking to support innovative approaches to outstanding problems, specifically in areas related to evolutionary medicine. Appropriate areas of inquiry include any field of evolutionary science that is relevant to medicine or to human or animal health. Examples include, but are not limited to, evolution of infectious or zoonotic disease, evolutionary issues in global health, evolution of aging, evolution of fertility, autoimmune disease and allergy, evolutionary perspectives on cancer, and evolution of disease-relevant micro-organisms. Proposals that have a clear interdisciplinary focus, and involve evolutionary concepts in any health- or disease-related area, are strongly encouraged, as are proposals that demonstrate international participation and a mix of senior and emerging researchers, including graduate students. Deadline for proposals is November 1, 2014. All meetings must be completed by September 30, 2015.

Details at http://nescent.org/science/EvolutionaryMedicineCatalysis.php

Indiana University has organized an extensive survey on the roles of evolutionary biology and theory in modern medical education.  The survey targets students, alumni and faculty members of schools of medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine and public health.  The aims are to assess 1) the level of education in evolutionary biology that current health practitioners have and students are receiving, 2) opinions about the utility of evolutionary biology in health practice and research, and 3) opinions as to when and where training in evolutionary biology might be most appropriate in medical education.There are four versions of the survey, each corresponding to one of four fields: Continue Reading »

For decades food manufacturers have marketed saccharin, along with other non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS), as healthy alternatives to sugar. Artificial sugar substitutes cannot be digested by humans and have been recommended for patients with diabetes  and for those trying to lose weight. However, a new report in the journal Nature suggests that NAS are harmful to metabolic health. In this study, saccharin given to mice and to healthy human subjects worsened glucose control compared to sugar, and had the paradoxical effect of increasing blood glucose levels.

Saccharin increased blood glucose in mice (Suez et al. doi:10.1038/nature13793)
Saccharin increased blood glucose in mice (Suez et al. doi:10.1038/nature13793)

Lead investigator Eran Elinov and his colleagues showed that the intestinal microbiota was responsible for the adverse metabolic effects of saccharin. Saccharin increased numbers of Bacteroides bacteria in the gut and also increased the density of bacteria in the Enterobacteriaceae group while decreasing the number of certain beneficial bacteria, such as Akkermansia mucinophila. Remarkably when fecal bacteria from saccharin-fed humans were transferred to germ-free mice, the mice became glucose intolerant, similar to their human donors. Some human subjects were non-responders, maintaining normal metabolism of glucose after exposure to saccharin. Fecal samples from non-responders were inoculated into germ free mice without causing glucose intolerance. These findings indicate a causal role for the microbiota in the impairment of metabolism by artificial sweeteners.

Continue Reading »

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Registration and abstract submission are now open for the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health Inaugural Meeting, March 19-21 in Tempe, Arizona.

The will be the first large open meeting soliciting abstracts from all in the field, world-wide.  It is co-sponsored by the Foundation for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health and the ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine.  Charlie Nunn is the Chair of the Program Committee; Cynthia Beall and Randolph Nesse are working with him to create the program. Abstract submissions are welcome for talks, posters, discussions, and panel discussions.

Plenary Speakers include: Harvey Fineberg, Institute of Medicine, Stephen Stearns, Yale University, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, UCLA, Sir Peter Gluckman, University of Auckland, Ann Demogines, (Omenn Award Winner)  BioFire Diagnostics, and Ruslan Medzhitov, Yale.  See the conference website for other speakers and details.

The meeting will be held at Arizona State University and the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel.

Full information is available at http://EvMedMeeting.org      

Register now at  http://www.regonline.com/evmed

Fees are substantially discounted for those who register early, and are refundable until February 15th.  The venue has  limited capacity, so all available slots may fill early.


Schiz-Authism copy
Schiz-Authism copy
Bernard Crespi has for several years developed evidence to support the theory, first proposed with CR Badcock, that schizophrenia and autism are flip sides of excessive or deficient maternal or paternal imprinting.   A study published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society b finds further support from data on size at birth and risks of schizophrenia and autism in 1.75 million Danes.  Smaller babies are at increased risk for schizophrenia, larger babies are at increased risk for autism.   A press release is here.   Details below.

Opposite risk patterns for autism and schizophrenia are associated with normal variation in birth size: phenotypic support for hypothesized diametric gene-dosage effects
By Sean G. Byars, Stephen C. Stearns, and Jacobus J. Boomsma
Proc. R. Soc. B 7 November 2014 vol. 281 no. 1794 20140604  doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0604  (not open access)

Abstract: Opposite phenotypic and behavioural traits associated with copy number variation and disruptions to imprinted genes with parent-of-origin effects have led to the hypothesis that autism and schizophrenia share molecular risk factors and pathogenic mechanisms, but a direct phenotypic comparison of how their risks covary has not been attempted. Here, we use health registry data collected on Denmark’s roughly 5 million residents between 1978 and 2009 to detect opposing risks of autism and schizophrenia depending on normal variation (mean ± 1 s.d.) in adjusted birth size, which we use as a proxy for diametric gene-dosage variation in utero. Above-average-sized babies (weight, 3691–4090 g; length, 52.8–54.3 cm) had significantly higher risk for autism spectrum (AS) and significantly lower risk for schizophrenia spectrum (SS) disorders. By contrast, below-average-sized babies (2891–3290 g; 49.7–51.2 cm) had significantly lower risk for AS and significantly higher risk for SS disorders. This is the first study directly comparing autism and schizophrenia risks in the same population, and provides the first large-scale empirical support for the hypothesis that diametric gene-dosage effects contribute to these disorders. Only the kinship theory of genomic imprinting predicts the opposing risk patterns that we discovered, suggesting that molecular research on mental disease risk would benefit from considering evolutionary theory.

Over the past several weeks the health news has been dominated by the outbreak of infections by Ebola virus (EBOV) in several West African nations: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.  A study (Gire et al., 2014) published online at the end of August and now in print by a large collaborative group based in the U.S., the U.K., or West Africa applied massively parallel sequencing of the genomes of clinical isolates of the Ebola virus primarily from Sierra Leone. The results bear on the origins of the outbreak and the transmission patterns of the responsible virus lineages and may inform future investigations pertaining to diagnostic tests, the development of vaccines, and the design of therapies based on small-molecule drugs or biologics. Continue Reading »

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A link here and on the right hand column of this page (“For Medical students”), takes you to a new page that is creating a network of medical and other health professional students who share an interest in evolution, medicine, and public health.  If you are such a student, click the link to add your information, and/or to offer to help to organize students at your university.

 Pre-Columbian mycobacterial genomes reveal seals as a source of New World human tuberculosis    Nature  doi:10.1038/nature13591

Authors:  Kirsten I. Bos, Kelly M. Harkins, Alexander Herbig, Mireia Coscolla, Nico Weber, Iñaki Comas, Stephen A. Forrest, Josephine M. Bryant, Simon R. Harris, Verena J. Schuenemann, Tessa J. Campbell, Kerrtu Majander, Alicia K. Wilbur, Ricardo A. Guichon, Dawnie L. Wolfe Steadman, Della Collins Cook, Stefan Niemann, Marcel A. Behr, Martin Zumarraga, Ricardo Bastida, Daniel Huson, Kay Nieselt, Douglas Young, Julian Parkhill, Jane E. Buikstra, Sebastien Gagneux, Anne C. Stone & Johannes Krause

See reports in The Economist   The New York Times  The BBC   Arizona State University 

Abstract:   Continue Reading »


By Alcock, Joe, Maley, Carlo C., & Aktipis, C. Athena. (2014). Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms. Bioessays, n/a-n/a. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400071

See a nice commentary by Carl Zimmer in the NYTimes.

Abstract: Microbes in the gastrointestinal tract are under selective pressure to manipulate host eating behavior to increase their fitness, sometimes at the expense of host fitness. Microbes may do this through two potential strategies: (i) generating cravings for foods that they specialize on or foods that suppress their competitors, or (ii) inducing dysphoria until we eat foods that enhance their fitness. We review several potential mechanisms for microbial control over eating behavior including microbial influence on reward and satiety pathways, production of toxins that alter mood, changes to receptors including taste receptors, and hijacking of the vagus nerve, the neural axis between the gut and the brain. We also review the evidence for alternative explanations for cravings and unhealthy eating behavior. Because microbiota are easily manipulatable by prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics, fecal transplants, and dietary changes, altering our microbiota offers a tractable approach to otherwise intractable problems of obesity and unhealthy eating.

By  Apari P, de Sousa JD, Müller V (2014) . in PLoS Pathog 10(8): e1004111. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004111

In this Opinion piece we argue that the tendency of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to cause infertility is likely to reflect an evolutionary adaptation of the pathogens. We use an evolutionary perspective to understand how STI pathogens may benefit from reducing fertility in the host and what clues the mechanisms of pathogenesis can offer to the evolution of this ability. While we concentrate on human infections, we will also briefly discuss the broader context of STI-induced infertility in other species. Continue reading

Adaptive variability in the duration of critical windows of plasticity:   Implications for the programming of obesity
By  Jonathan CK Wells  Evol Med Public Health published 5 August 2014, 10.1093/emph/eou019

http://emph.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/08/05/emph.eou019.abstract?papetoc   (open access)

Abstract:  Developmental plasticity underlies widespread associations between early-life exposures and many components of adult phenotype, including the risk of chronic diseases. Humans take almost two decades to reach reproductive maturity, and yet the ‘critical windows’ of physiological sensitivity that confer developmental plasticity tend to close during fetal life or infancy.

Continue Reading »

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