ClubEvMed Upcoming Events

ClubEvMed Upcoming Events

Sign up now for April and May ClubEvMed events!

(And submit your ISEMPH2021 abstract by Friday!)

Postdoc Spotlight

Thursday, April 29th at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST

Join us for a special Club EvMed where we’ll be highlighting some of the exciting work done by postdoctoral researchers in the field of evolutionary medicine. We will hear 12-minute research talks from Kyle CardLiz Lange, and Federica Pierini (see abstracts below). There will be a brief Q&A period at the end of each talk, plus breakout rooms after all 3 talks to allow for more in depth conversations with the speakers. Sign up here for the meeting link.

“The effect of population size, mutation rate, and genetic background on the evolution of antibiotic resistance” by Kyle Card, Cleveland Clinic
The evolution of antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing problem. The ability to predict a pathogen’s capacity to evolve resistance is therefore a critical public-health goal. In previous work, we found that differences between genetic backgrounds can sometimes lead to unpredictable responses in phenotypic resistance and influence its genetic basis by channeling evolution down particular mutational paths. However, it is still not clear how background interacts with other factors, including population size and mutation rate to influence resistance evolution. To address this issue, we are combining theory with an experimental examination of a time-series of E. coli strains isolated from a population that evolved increases in both population size and mutation rate during a long-term evolution experiment (LTEE).

“Female-female social bonds mediate the relationship between early life adversity and lifespan in wild baboons, but female-male social bonds do not” by Liz Lange, Duke University
Adversities experienced during early life and adult social environments can have profound effects on human health and survival. However, it is unclear if experiences during early life and adulthood exhibit independent effects on survival, or instead if these processes are linked such that adverse early experiences are strongly coupled with dysfunction in adult social relationships, which in turn are strongly coupled with decreased lifespan. In this study we used longitudinal data on 199 wild adult female baboons from the Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya to determine the links between early life adversity, adult social bonds, and adult survival outcomes. We find that early adversity and social isolation from both males and females reduce survival, but only female-female social bonds link early life adversity to reduced survival. Our results suggest that the timing of effects (e.g., the effect of early adversity on social bonds and social bonds on survival) are crucial to determining the links between these processes and should be considered in human studies of adverse childhood experiences.

“Exploring immunogenetic diversity in historical human populations” by Federica Pierini, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
The highly polymorphic genes of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system play a key role in adaptive immunity. Pathogen-mediated selection is proposed to be one of the major factors affecting the genetic variability at those genes, but our knowledge is so far based on information acquired from the study of present-day human populations. The investigation of ancient HLA genes in historical populations could shed further light on mechanisms of pathogen-mediated selection in humans. I will first show our novel aDNA-optimized pipeline for low-coverage and low-quality shotgun sequence data and follow with two examples of its applicability. The approach has been successfully applied to a dataset of Late Neolithic samples from a collective burial in Niedertiefenbach (Germany), revealing a distinct and characteristic HLA gene pool compared to modern day German individuals, and to a dataset of medieval European samples, associating HLA variability with susceptibility to leprosy.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Human Nature: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Monday, May 10th at 12pm EDT

This Club EvMed will feature a dynamic roundtable conversation with several authors of the recently published PNAS paper, “The pandemic exposes human nature: 10 evolutionary insights.” Moderated by Dan Blumstein (Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA), the panel’s discussants will include Athena Aktipis (Assistant Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University), Martie Haselton (Professor of Psychology at UCLA), and Joe Alcock (Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of New Mexico). They will provide a range of evolutionary insights and hypotheses related to the impact of COVID-19 on human health and social systems. Sign up here for the meeting link.

Divergent evolutionary roots for posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms

Monday, May 17th at 12pm EDT

Join us for a conversation with Sarah Mathew, Associate Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, and Matthew Zefferman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. Military personnel in industrialized societies often develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during combat. It is unclear whether combat-related PTSD is a universal evolutionary response to danger, or a culture-specific syndrome of industrialized societies. We interviewed 218 Turkana pastoralist warriors in Kenya, who engage in lethal cattle raids, about their combat experiences and PTSD symptoms. Compared to American combat veterans, Turkana suffer PTSD symptoms at high rates, but have lower prevalence of depression-like PTSD symptoms. Symptoms that facilitate responding to danger were better predicted by combat exposure, whereas depressive symptoms were better predicted by exposure to combat-related moral violations. The findings suggest that some PTSD symptoms stem from a universal response to danger, while depressive PTSD symptoms may be caused by culturally-specific moral norm violations.

Attendees are encouraged to read Zefferman and Mathew 2021, “Combat stress in a small-scale society suggests divergent evolutionary roots for posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms” and Zefferman and Mathew 2020, “An evolutionary theory of moral injury with insight from Turkana warriors.” Sign up here for the meeting link.

Die Young, Live Fast: ClubEvMed April 21

Die Young, Live Fast: ClubEvMed April 21

Die young, live fast: is accelerated reproduction an adaptive response to early life adversity in wild baboons?

Wednesday, April 21st at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST. Sign up here for the meeting link.

Join us for a conversation with Elizabeth Archie, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, and Chelsea Weibel, PhD Student at the University of Notre Dame. If an individual can anticipate an early death, should they also “live fast”? Fast reproduction is often proposed to be an adaptive response to harsh conditions in early life because early adversity predicts shorter lifespans. Individuals who speed up reproduction after experiencing early adversity might therefore have higher fitness than those who do not. Using long-term data on natural population of baboons in Amboseli, Kenya, we tested if fast reproduction offers lifetime fitness advantages to females. Contrary to several influential hypotheses, females who experienced early adversity did not improve their fitness if they sped up reproduction. Our results raise doubts that accelerated reproduction is an adaptive response to early adversity in long lived, slow-reproducing species.Sign up here for the meeting link.

 Call for graduate student presenters!
We’re excited to announce that we will be highlighting some of the exciting evolutionary medicine research done by late-stage graduate students at an upcoming Club EvMed! This is a fantastic opportunity to present your work virtually to the global evolutionary medicine community, get feedback, and initiate discussions and new connections.

Consider nominating yourself or someone else using this form. All nominations are due by Wednesday, May 5th for consideration. Three graduate students will be selected to present at an event tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 3rd.

Looking forward to your submissions! Brought to you by:

Omenn Prize: $5000 for best EvMed article

The $5000 Gilbert S. Omenn Prize is awarded by the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health for the best article published in the previous calendar year on a topic related to evolution in the context of medicine and public health.  Nominations for articles published in 2020, including self-nominations, are welcome until April 30, 2021. Caleb Finch chairs the prize jury.

Full information here: https://isemph.org/Omenn-Prize

Link for submission here: https://airtable.com/shrFQfv2sKrCUevpA

The International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health invites
nominations for the Omenn Prize of $5000 for the best article published in
the previous calendar year in any scientific journal on a topic related to
evolution in the context of medicine and public health.

The prize, provided by the generosity of Gilbert S. Omenn, will be awarded
to the first author of the winning article. The Committee, chaired this
year by Caleb Finch, may elect to recognize more than one article. Authors
are encouraged to nominate their own articles, but nominations of articles
by others are also welcome.Directions for NominationsPlease submit your
nomination using this brief form. The form requests a reference for the
nominated article, along with a brief statement in support of your
nomination.

Peer-reviewed articles with a publication date of 2020 that use
evolutionary principles to advance understanding of a disease or disease
process are eligible.  The prize committee will give priority to articles
with implications for human health, but many basic science or theoretical
articles have such implications.

The prize is made possible by a generous donation by Gilbert Omenn, M.D.,
PhD. Director of the Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics
at the University of Michigan where he is a Professor of Internal Medicine,
Human Genetics, and Public Health. Dr. Omenn served as Executive Vice
President for Medical Affairs as Chief Executive Officer of the University
of Michigan Health System from 1997-2002. He is a past president of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the
Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

ClubEvMed Upcoming Events

Club EvMed: Four in April! Sign up now.

And don’t miss the last one in March: Harnessing the social lives of microbes to improve human health, Thursday, March 25th at 12pm EDT/17:00 CET

See the website at ClubEvMed.org for full details

The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West became psychologically peculiar and particularly prosperous

Thursday, April 1st at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST

cover of Joseph Henrich's book, The Weirdest People in the World

Join us for a conversation with Joe Henrich, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. Over the last few decades, a growing body of research has revealed not only substantial global variation along several important psychological dimensions, but also that people from societies that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) are particularly unusual, often anchoring the ends of global psychological distributions. To explain these patterns, I’ll first show how the most fundamental human institutions—those governing marriage and the family—influence our motivations, perceptions, intuitions and emotions. Then, to explain the peculiar trajectory of European societies over the last two millennium, I lay out how one particular branch of Christianity systematically dismantled the intensive kin-based institutions in much of Latin Christendom, thereby altering people’s psychology and opening the door to the proliferation of new institutional forms, including voluntary associations (charter towns, universities and guilds), impersonal markets, individualistic religions and representative governments. In light of these findings, I close by arguing that the anthropological, psychological and economic sciences should transform into a unified evolutionary approach that considers not only how human nature influences our behavior and societies but also how the resulting institutions, technologies and languages subsequently shape our minds.

After the talk, perspectives on how the research applies in a clinical setting will be presented by physician Neal Baer, Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard. Attendees are encouraged to read Schulz et al. 2019, “The Church, intensive kinship, and global psychological variation.” Sign up here for the meeting link.

Causes and consequences of fear of childbirth

Monday, April 5th at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST

Zaneta Thayer headshot

Join us for a conversation with Zaneta Thayer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. Childbirth is an essential component of reproduction. And yet, many individuals experience fear of childbirth (FOC), defined as anxiety about birth that impairs an individual’s daily functioning and wellbeing. Mild to moderate FOC has been previously described as a potential adaptation for humans to seek assistance during labor and delivery. However, FOC exists on a spectrum, and individuals with high FOC are known to be more likely to request cesarean and other forms of medical intervention in order to avoid pain and maintain a sense of control. In this talk, I will expand on what is known about the causes of FOC, as well as presently underappreciated impacts of FOC on maternal and child health across the perinatal period. Using data collected from pregnant persons living in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, I will discuss how pandemic-related restrictions on birth environments have amplified FOC and associations between FOC and gestation length, postpartum depression, and breastfeeding outcomes. This work suggests that promoting prenatal care and birth environments that facilitate patient-provider trust, continuous labor support, and maternal self-efficacy could reduce FOC. Sign up here for the meeting link.

Die young, live fast: is accelerated reproduction an adaptive response to early life adversity in wild baboons?

Wednesday, April 21st at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST

a picture of a baboon with its young

Join us for a conversation with Elizabeth Archie, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, and Chelsea Weibel, PhD Student at the University of Notre Dame. If an individual can anticipate an early death, should they also “live fast”? Fast reproduction is often proposed to be an adaptive response to harsh conditions in early life because early adversity predicts shorter lifespans. Individuals who speed up reproduction after experiencing early adversity might therefore have higher fitness than those who do not. Using long-term data on natural population of baboons in Amboseli, Kenya, we tested if fast reproduction offers lifetime fitness advantages to females. Contrary to several influential hypotheses, females who experienced early adversity did not improve their fitness if they sped up reproduction. Our results raise doubts that accelerated reproduction is an adaptive response to early adversity in long lived, slow-reproducing species. Sign up here for the meeting link.

Postdoc Spotlight

Thursday, April 29th at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST

We are accepting nominations through Wednesday, March 31st. If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else to present a 12-minute talk at Club EvMed, please fill out this form.