Club EvMed for October

Club EvMed for October

Club EvMed: How evolutionary behavioural sciences can help us understand behaviour in a pandemic

Thursday, October 14th at 11am EDT/17:00 CEST

Join us for a conversation with Ruth Mace, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at University College London, Emily Emmott, Lecturer in Anthropology at University College London, and Gul Deniz Salali, Lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology at University College London. Prof. Mace will outline the main conclusions from taking a behavioural ecological approach to understanding the diversity of responses to behavioural responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Emmott will outline her research on how the pandemic disrupted social networks, focusing on mothers of young babies and the risk of depression. Dr. Salali will present the findings from her ongoing project that tackles vaccine hesitancy (a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines) using predictions from cultural evolution theory.

Attendees are encouraged to read Arnot et al. 2020, “How evolutionary behavioural sciences can help us understand behaviour in a pandemic,” Myers and Emmott 2021, “Communication across maternal social networks during England’s first national lockdown and its association with postnatal depressive symptoms,” and Salali and Uysal 2021, “Effective incentives for increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake.” Sign up here for the meeting link:

Club EvMed: Evolutionary demography sheds light on the allelic spectrum of late-onset diseases

Thursday, October 21st at 1pm EDT/19:00 CEST

Join us for a conversation with Samuel Pavard, Associate Professor at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, and Christophe Coste, Researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Geneticists have long considered alleles involved in post-menopause mortality to be neutral as no reproduction occurs anymore. Population genetics models have predicted that genetic drift rather than purifying selection was shaping the allelic spectrum of late-onset diseases, leading to a few common variants explaining most of the diseases’ prevalences. However, recent association studies show that most susceptibility alleles to late onset diseases have low frequencies: a characteristic of alleles under negative selection. We show that susceptibility alleles to late onset diseases are under purifying selection for most known age-at-onset distributions of late-onset genetic diseases. We conclude that neutrality is probably the exception among alleles that have a deleterious effect in old age and that accounting for sociocultural factors is required to understand the full extent of the force of selection shaping senescence in humans.

Attendees are encouraged to read Pavard and Coste 2021, “Evolutionary demographic models reveal the strength of purifying selection on susceptibility alleles to late-onset diseases.” Sign up here for the meeting link:

Tenure track position at U Arizona

Tenure track position at U Arizona

The University of Arizona in Tucson has a tenure track opening for a biologist working in evolutionary medicine.

The Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona invites applications for an Assistant Professor position (tenure track) to begin in August 2022. We seek a candidate in the broadly defined area of Evolutionary Medicine at the intersection of ecology and evolutionary biology and human health. Candidates whose research focuses on any aspect of the ecology and evolution of disease and health are encouraged to apply. A focus on any organism or system with implications for human health is welcome. Founded in 1975, the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona was the first department of its kind in the world, pioneering a model for the organization of biology that is now in use in many of the world’s leading universities. Our focus is broad, spanning levels of organization from molecular genetics and organismal function as they relate to evolution and ecology, from population and community ecology to biological diversity, phylogeny and macroevolution. Our program’s unique personality comes from our faculty members who combine theory and empirical work and take an integrative approach to blending disciplines in their research and teaching. Members of the department collaborate with life science faculty in the Colleges of Science, Medicine, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture & Life Sciences, and Social & Behavioral Sciences, the Cancer Center, and the BIO5 Institute. We are excited about building an inclusive and diverse environment for research, education, and service. 
Tucson is a fun, affordable, welcoming, and livable city located among the biologically diverse Madrean Sky Islands in the Sonoran Desert. The city is recognized internationally for its food culture and in 2015 was named the first UNESCO World City of Gastronomy in the United States. We have great weather and are surrounded by spectacular scenery, including numerous national parks and wilderness areas. The Tucson area has a surprising range of habitats, amazing subtropical biodiversity, and is only a few hours drive from numerous tropical habitats in Mexico.

Details here

Club EvMed for October

ClubEvMed: September 9 and 21

**NEW DATE!** Alzheimer’s Disease: a case of evolutionary mismatch?

Thursday, September 9th at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST

headshot of Molly Fox

Join us for a conversation with Molly Fox, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a devastating, neurodegenerative disorder that emerges after age 65, afflicting ~20% of women and ~10% of men. A clear, singular cause of AD remains elusive; rather, it is thought to be the result of a complex interplay between physiological, genetic, and environmental risk factors and vulnerabilities. Several risk factors and prodromal phenotypes associated with AD were likely absent or at far lower frequency for the vast majority of human evolutionary history, suggesting the possibility that AD may be a case of “evolutionary mismatch.” My research in this area focuses on two domains of human life that have changed profoundly in recent history: female reproductive life-history patterns and microbial exposures. In this context, I explore how immune function and endocrinology act as key mediators of the journey from risk factors to pathogenesis. I argue that it is particularly important to examine AD risk and etiology in women, because post-menopausal women have opportunity to engage in activities that promote inclusive fitness, and those suffering from AD would not only miss out on these opportunities, but may even be burdensome to younger kin in ways that undermine inclusive fitness. Women are more likely to develop AD than age-matched men, and AD is associated with distinct biomarkers among women and men, justifying the need to investigate female-specific etiologies.

Attendees are encouraged to read Fox et al. 2019, “Alzheimer’s disease and symbiotic microbiota: an evolutionary medicine perspective,” Fox 2018 “’Evolutionary medicine’ perspectives on Alzheimer’s Disease: Review and new directions,” and Fox et al. 2018, “Women’s pregnancy life history and Alzheimer’s risk: Can immunoregulation explain the link?” 

Sign up here for the meeting link.


The durability of immunity against reinfection by SARS-CoV-2: a comparative evolutionary study

Tuesday, September 21st at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST

This conversation will be led by Jeffrey Townsend, Elihu Professor of Biostatistics and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. Full details to be announced soon, but you can register in advance here.

EMPH Emphasis: Williams Prize, 48 Clinical Briefs, and higher impact factor

EMPH Emphasis: Williams Prize, 48 Clinical Briefs, and higher impact factor

Evolution Medicine and Public Health has now published 48 Clinical Briefs, now all conveniently listed together for easy access. Each one provides a single page about how an evolutionary view illuminates a clinical condition.

Renee Hagen

The best article in the journal each year receives the $5000 Williams Prize. This year’s prize is for an article by Renee Hagen and Brooke Scelza “Adoption of outgroup norms provides evidence for social transmission in perinatal care practices among rural Namibian women” 

Submit your article now!

EMPH is an open access journal published by Oxford University Press that is edited by Charles Nunn. Under his editorship the journal impact factor has just increased to 5.425.

Club EvMed June 29

Club EvMed: Of Mice and Elephants: Trade-Offs of Tumor Suppressor Duplication and Body Size Evolution in Afrotheria

Tuesday, June 29th at 12pm EDT/18:00 CEST

Join us for a conversation with Juan Manuel Vazquez, Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California-Berkeley. Peto’s Paradox describes the observation that while cancer risk is correlated with body size and lifespan within species, no such correlation holds between species. This indicates that large, long-lived species have evolved enhanced cancer protection mechanisms, and that these mechanisms may be used to treat and even prevent human cancers, and extend the human healthspan. The recent expansion of body size in elephants relative to other members of their resident clade of Afrotheria led us to explore how both body size and lifespan evolved in this group. Unexpectedly, we found that tumor suppressor duplication was pervasive in Afrotherian genomes, rather than restricted to Proboscideans. Proboscideans, however, have duplicates in unique pathways that may underlie some aspects of their remarkable anti-cancer cell biology. These data suggest that duplication of tumor suppressor genes facilitated the evolution of increased body size by compensating for decreasing intrinsic cancer risk. In our talk, we will begin with a summary of these findings, then move on to a discussion of the implications of tumor suppressor duplicates in the development and fitness of various animals, and of a new paradox: how can an organism’s body size expand given enhanced genetic shackles on growth?

Attendees are encouraged to read Vazquez and Lynch 2021, “Pervasive duplication of tumor suppressors in Afrotherians during the evolution of large bodies and reduced cancer risk” and García-Cao et al. 2002, “‘Super p53’ mice exhibit enhanced DNA damage response, are tumor resistant and age normally.” Sign up here for the meeting link: