Nothing in cancer makes sense except…

Nothing in cancer makes sense except…

A wonderful new article by Mel Graves is a must read now and will become a classic. Fortunately it is open access. Greaves, M. (2018). Nothing in cancer makes sense except…. BMC Biology, 16(1), 22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-018-0493-8

The article begins: Dobzhansky’s insight applies not just to biology but to much in medicine. For example, our vulnerability to many chronic diseases in modern societies probably owes much to a mismatch between contemporary lifestyles and historical, evolutionary adaptations [12]. Another potent example is with the development of drug resistance in microbes and parasites which is contingent upon clonal, evolutionary selection [3]. Similarly, the emergence of new or more virulent microbial pathogens reflects the outcome of evolutionary arms races between the immune system’s pathogen recognition repertoire and the high mutability of viruses, parasites and bacteria [4]. It’s a travesty that it is still possible to obtain a medical degree whilst in denial, or lacking understanding, of the essential tenets of evolutionary biology [5]. But, it is also likely that some evolutionary biologists are unaware of the medical implications of their field.

New Web Resources Abound!

New Web Resources Abound!

AskABiologist has a wonderful new keynote story on evolutionary medicine by Karla Moeller, along with a whole series of wonderful EvMedEdits on specific topics that are perfect for high school students. The site gets 30,000 visits a day.

http://www.evo-ed.org/ is a site with wonderful Powerpoint slide sets created by the team at Michigan State University, with case  studies on core topics in evolution, including some directly relevant to evolutionary medicine

http://evolutionmedicine.com is Joe Alcock's website, with blog posts and links to many resources

EvMedEd.org aims to provide a database of all authoritative teaching and learning resources relevant to evolution and medicine. Look for a major update soon. 

Do you know of other resources?  If so, send a note to editor@evmedreview.com or just leave a comment below. 

Evolution and the Future of Medicine

Evolution and the Future of Medicine

This chapter by Michael Rose and collaborators appears in a new book, On Human Nature  2017, Pages 695–705.  It is full of ideas, large and small. 

Rose, M. R., Rutledge, G. A., Cabral, L. G., Greer, L. F., Canfield, A. L., & Cervantes, B. G. (2017). Chapter 42 – Evolution and the Future of Medicine. In M. Tibayrenc & F. J. Ayala (Eds.), On Human Nature (pp. 695–705). San Diego: Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-420190-3.00042-9

Abstract

Medicine has undergone three major revolutions up to the end of the 20th century. Here we propose the need for a fourth: one based on evolutionary biology and genomics. Medicine is reaching the limits of what can be achieved, with its present focus on etiologies of chronic disease that arise from single genetic mutations or the interruption of single metabolic pathways. Now medicine faces the etiological, diagnostic, and therapeutic challenges that arise from complex genome-wide inherited risk factors—risks that are in turn further complicated by their dependence on dietary and other lifestyle choices. Evolutionary biology offers both explanatory frameworks for such risks as well as new strategies for mitigating their impact on human health, particularly in the context of chronic disorders. However, in order to take advantage of this new opportunity, an extensive and careful reconfiguration of the biomedical sciences is required.

Evolutionary Genetics for Mental Disorders

Evolutionary Genetics for Mental Disorders

A new article provides a comprehensive review of this important area where an evolutionary perspective offers great promise:
Keller, M. C. (2018). Evolutionary Perspectives on Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors for Psychiatric Disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 14(1),  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050817-084854

ABSTRACT: Evolutionary medicine uses evolutionary theory to help elucidate why humans are vulnerable to disease and disorders. I discuss two different types of evolutionary explanations that have been used to help understand human psychiatric disorders. First, a consistent finding is that psychiatric disorders are moderately to highly heritable, and many, such as schizophrenia, are also highly disabling and appear to decrease Darwinian fitness. Models used in evolutionary genetics to understand why genetic variation exists in fitness-related traits can be used to understand why risk alleles for psychiatric disorders persist in the population. The usual explanation for species-typical adaptations—natural selection—is less useful for understanding individual differences in genetic risk to disorders. Rather, two other types of models, mutation-selection-drift and balancing selection, offer frameworks for understanding why genetic variation in risk to psychiatric (and other) disorders exists, and each makes predictions that are now testable using whole-genome data. Second, species-typical capacities to mount reactions to negative events are likely to have been crafted by natural selection to minimize fitness loss. The pain reaction to tissue damage is almost certainly such an example, but it has been argued that the capacity to experience depressive symptoms such as sadness, anhedonia, crying, and fatigue in the face of adverse life situations may have been crafted by natural selection as well. I review the rationale and strength of evidence for this hypothesis. Evolutionary hypotheses of psychiatric disorders are important not only for offering explanations for why psychiatric disorders exist, but also for generating new, testable hypotheses and understanding how best to design studies and analyze data.

Evolution and medicine postdoctoral research fellowship

Evolution and medicine postdoctoral research fellowship

The Center for Evolution & Medicine (CEM) at Arizona State University (ASU) invites applications for the Evolution & Medicine Research Fellowship. The Fellowship brings talented researchers with a recently awarded M.D. or Ph.D. to the ASU campus to develop and extend their own independent research agendas with opportunities to collaborate with CEM faculty and other members of their laboratories. Additionally, fellows will spend time working with their mentor to develop skills in the areas of outreach, education and grant writing. Possible research areas include, but are not limited to, co-evolution and infectious diseases, regulation of inflammation and other defenses, autoimmune disorders, cancer, genomics, reproductive health, lactation, and factors that influence disease susceptibility. The proposed research project must advance evidence based science for evolution and medicine. 

Salary: $60,000
Job #12228
Full-time

The successful fellow(s) will be an outstanding scientist with a specific independent research plan, wide-ranging interests in evolutionary biology related to disease and health, and an appreciation for interdisciplinary research. Selections are based on academic achievement, creativity, overlap of interests with multiple CEM faculty, and the likely success and impact of the research project. Fellows cannot have had more than five years of previous postdoctoral experience, nor have been employed previously as an assistant professor, associate professor or professor on the tenure track. Nominees who are non-US citizens are encouraged to apply, and will need to be eligible for a J-1 Scholar visa status for the duration of the Fellowship. CEM does not support H1B visa status. A background check is required for employment.

Fellows will receive a salary of $60,000 and will have access to funding of up to $10,000 per annum to support their research, of which $1500 may be allocated for moving expenses. The initial closing date for receipt of complete applications is February 1, 2018; applications will be reviewed weekly thereafter until the search is closed. The earliest anticipated start date is July 2018, the latest is January 2019. This is a full-time (1.0 FTE) benefits-eligible, fiscal year (July 1 – June 30) appointment. The fellowship is granted for a period of two years, with a possible third year. Renewal for the second and possible third year is contingent on performance and the availability of resources. For additional information and policies regarding postdoctoral scholars at ASU, please see http://provost.asu.edu/postdoc . By the start date, candidates must have completed a Ph.D. in anthropology, biology, psychology or another natural science field that provides an extensive background in evolutionary biology, or an MD, DVM, DrPH or equivalent level health professional degree. Minimum qualifications include demonstrated proof of advanced degree listed above and research experience in the field of evolutionary medicine by the time of the appointment. Preference will be given to applicants interested in furthering their own research agenda in a multidisciplinary environment and prior research experience in co-evolution and infectious diseases, regulation of inflammation and other defenses, autoimmune disorders, cancer, genomics, reproductive health, lactation and factors that influence disease susceptibility. To apply, please email a single pdf document to evmedsearch@asu.edu that contains:

  • A one-page statement explaining your interest in this position, which faculty members you would like to work with (and to have act as your postdoctoral sponsor/advisor(s)), and how it could advance your career plans
  • A one or two-page statement that describes the research you will pursue at CEM if awarded a fellowship. The ability to clearly articulate a research plan that can be understood by faculty from other disciplines is an important selection criterion, so please minimize jargon and technical language.
  • The names and contact information for three references
  • A curriculum vitae

Please use 11 point Times font with 1 inch margins and 1.5 line spacing for all items except the CV. The Center for Evolution & Medicine is a university-wide Presidential Initiative directed by Randolph Nesse. Its mission is to improve human health by establishing evolutionary biology as an essential basic science for medicine, worldwide. It supports research that demonstrates the power of evolutionary biology to advance the understanding, prevention, and treatment of disease, as well as teaching and outreach initiatives. See http://evmed.asu.edu for details and information on Core Faculty. As an interdisciplinary unit, the CEM provides postdoctoral fellows with opportunities collaborate with faculty from a wide-range of disciplines including anthropology, biology, complex systems, computational informatics, genetics, infectious disease, psychology, and virology. For additional information on the Center for Evolution & Medicine, visit https://evmed.asu.edu. For additional information on the position, please contact Jennifer Vazquez, Assistant Director, at jennifer.vazquez@asu.edu. Arizona State University is a new model for American higher education, an unprecedented combination of academic excellence, entrepreneurial energy and broad access. This New American University is a single, unified institution comprising four differentiated campuses positively impacting the economic, social, cultural and environmental health of the communities it serves. Its research is inspired by real world application blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines. ASU serves more than 80,000 students in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, the nation's fifth largest city. ASU champions intellectual and cultural diversity, and welcomes students from all fifty states and more than one hundred nations across the globe. 

Arizona State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to excellence through diversity. All qualified applicants will be considered without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply (http://www.asu.edu/titleIX/). For more information on ASU’s non-discrimination policy, visit ACD 401.

Prenatal stress has big effects

Berghänel, A., Heistermann, M., Schülke, O., & Ostner, J. (2017). Prenatal stress accelerates offspring growth to compensate for reduced maternal investment across mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(50), E10658–E10666. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1707152114

Significance: Maternal stress during gestation causes numerous effects on infant physiology that extend well into adulthood. We contribute to the ongoing debate on whether these effects are adaptive outcomes or merely the product of energetic constraints by presenting an integrated hypothesis that predicts the diversity of observed maternal effects on offspring growth, incorporating both theoretical explanations into one coherent framework. Empirical tests of this hypothesis across mammals suggest that the timing of the stressor during gestation and a simultaneous consideration of maternal investment and adaptive growth plasticity effects are crucial for a full comprehension of prenatal stress effects on offspring growth. The results support an adaptive life history perspective on maternal effects that is relevant for evolutionary biology, medicine, and psychology.