This week’s issue of The Lancet has three articles in a landmark series about evolution and public health: an overview, an article about human microbe interactions, and the third about reproductive health. All are behind a paywall, but the accompanying editorial is open access. Its final paragraph reflects the journal’s concern about publishing articles about evolutionary biology: “The Series may be challenging to public health practitioners vested in action. For those working to advance broader social and political change to enhance public health and reduce disparities, the use of evolutionary theory may feel too reductionistic. We welcome readers’ engagement with and response to this fascinating and thought-provoking Series.” It will be interesting to see if they get the criticism that they anticipate.
These are the first major review articles on evolution and medicine or public health to appear in any major medical journal. Work on them began at an October 2014 Workshop sponsored by the ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine. Jonathan Wells took the lead in editing the series.
Lancet, T. (2017). What can evolutionary theory do for public health? The Lancet, 390(10093), 430. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31998-0
Wells, J. C. K., Nesse, R. M., Sear, R., Johnstone, R. A., & Stearns, S. C. (2017a). Evolutionary public health: introducing the concept. The Lancet, 390(10093), 500–509. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30572-X