Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health has just received its first Impact Factor–4.4. This places the journal 10/50 in category of Evolutionary Biology and 23/185 in category of Public, Environmental & Occupational Health.
The official journal of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health, EMPH is published Open Access by Oxford University Press and edited by Charles Nunn. It was founded by Stephen Stearns.
The journal is the preeminent prefered place to publish articles on evolution, medicine, and public health. A selection of highly cited articles in the journal is here.
Submitted articles get prompt professional review. Author’s fees are dramatically discounted for ISEMPH members and options are available to ensure all accepted articles can be published. Each year the best article in the journal receives the $5000 Williams Prize.
To submit your article, see the journal website.
Grunspan, D. Z., Moeller, K. T., Nesse, R. M., & Brownell, S. E. (2019). The state of evolutionary medicine in undergraduate education. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, 2019(1), 82–92. https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoz012
Background and objectives
Undergraduate courses that include evolutionary medicine (EM) are increasingly available, but quantified data about such courses are lacking. In this article, we describe relevant course offerings by institution and department type, in conjunction with information on the backgrounds and experiences of associated instructors.Methodology
We searched course catalogs from 196 American universities to find courses that include EM, and sent a survey to 101 EM instructors to ask about their backgrounds and teaching experiences.
Research-focused universities (R1) were much more likely to offer at least one course that covers evolutionary applications to health and disease than universities that granted only bachelor’s or master’s degrees. A survey course on EM was offered in 56% of 116 R1 universities, but only 2% of the 80 non-R1 universities we searched. Most EM instructors have backgrounds in anthropology or biology; each instructor’s area of expertise provides clues as to how continued growth of EM may occur differently by discipline.
Conclusions and implications
Undergraduates are most likely to learn about EM in research-intensive universities from an anthropological or biological perspective. Responses from anthropology and biology instructors, including whom they share course materials with, highlight that courses may differ depending on the discipline in which they are taught.
A new short review by David Haig will be of interest to all who study human reproduction and pregnancy.
Haig, D. (2019). Cooperation and conflict in human pregnancy. Current Biology, 29(11), R455–R458. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.04.040
Abstract: For many humans living today, obstetric care begins early in pregnancy, and most babies are born in hospitals. These are precautionary measures. Medical complications during the brief nine months of pregnancy are such a common part of human experience that we rarely ask ourselves why gestation does not always proceed as smoothly and reliably as the lifelong beating of our heart or filtration of blood by our kidneys. The birth of a healthy child is central to reproductive fitness and must have been subject to strong natural selection. Why then should placentas be less reliable organs than hearts or kidneys? Why should maternal hearts and kidneys be more subject to catastrophic failures during pregnancy than at other times? A crucial contrast distinguishes obstetrics from cardiology and nephrology. The coordinated activities of heart and kidneys take place within an individual comprised of genetically largely identical cells, whereas pregnancy involves an interaction between genetically-distinct individuals whose cooperation is obviated by evolutionary conflicts of interest.
Natri, H., Garcia, A. R., Buetow, K. H., Trumble, B. C., & Wilson, M. A. (2019). The Pregnancy Pickle: Evolved Immune Compensation Due to Pregnancy Underlies Sex Differences in Human Diseases. Trends in Genetics, 35(7), 478–488. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tig.2019.04.008
Abstract: We hypothesize that, ancestrally, sex-specific immune modulation evolved to facilitate survival of the pregnant person in the presence of an invasive placenta and an immunologically challenging pregnancy – an idea we term the ‘pregnancy compensation hypothesis’ (PCH). Further, we propose that sex differences in immune function are mediated, at least in part, by the evolution of gene content and dosage on the sex chromosomes, and are regulated by reproductive hormones. Finally, we propose that changes in reproductive ecology in industrialized environments exacerbate these evolved sex differences, resulting in the increasing risk of autoimmune disease observed in females, and a counteracting reduction in diseases such as cancer that can be combated by heightened immune surveillance. The PCH generates a series of expectations that can be tested empirically and that may help to identify the mechanisms underlying sex differences in modern human diseases.
A new article by Rozhok and DeGregori uses an evolutionary lens to propose a more sophisticated analysis of why cancer becomes more common with age, and the role of tissue ecology.
Rozhok, A., & DeGregori, J. (2019). A generalized theory of age-dependent carcinogenesis. ELife, 8. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.39950
Abstract: The Multi-Stage Model of Carcinogenesis (MMC), developed in the 1950 s-70s, postulated carcinogenesis as a Darwinian somatic selection process. The cellular organization of tissues was then poorly understood, with almost nothing known about cancer drivers and stem cells. The MMC paradigm was later confirmed, and cancer incidence was explained as a function of mutation occurrence. However, the MMC has never been tested for its ability to account for the discrepancies in the number of driver mutations and the organization of the stem cell compartments underlying different cancers that still demonstrate nearly universal age-dependent incidence patterns. Here we demonstrate by Monte Carlo modeling the impact of key somatic evolutionary parameters on the MMC performance, revealing that two additional major mechanisms, aging-dependent somatic selection and life history-dependent evolution of species-specific tumor suppressor mechanisms, need to be incorporated into the MMC to make it capable of generalizing cancer incidence across tissues and species.