TriCEM's Evolutionary Medicine Summer Institute

TriCEM's Evolutionary Medicine Summer Institute

Applications open now

We are excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 2020 Evolutionary Medicine Summer Institute (EMSI), held May 17-22 at NC State. The goal of EMSI is to introduce core evolutionary concepts to a wide range of topics in human health and disease, including public health, and to train physicians and medical scientists in computational methods used in evolutionary and ecological research.

EMSI brings together internationally recognized experts in evolutionary biology with students and health practitioners who want to apply these perspectives to cancer, infectious disease, evolution of microbial resistance, neurology, autoimmune disease, the microbiome, and more. Lectures on key concepts are complimented with hands-on computational exercises. Our goal is to give participants the background on evolutionary principles and the tools to apply evolutionary biology to questions of medical and veterinary importance.

For more information, including last year’s schedule, please visit the EMSI website. To apply, fill out this form by the deadline of March 20, 2020.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Meredith Spence Beaulieu (meredith.spence.beaulieu@duke.edu) or Courtni France (cnf12@duke.edu). 

Evolutionary Medicine Conference in Hamburg, May 17-20, 2020

Evolutionary Medicine Conference in Hamburg, May 17-20, 2020

The 40th Blankenese Conference
will be on Evolutionary Medicine. It is limited to 100 participants. Many distinguished speakers have confirmed attendance.

Chairmen Co-Organizers

  • Meyerhof, Homburg Manuel Friese, Hamburg
  • Dietmar Richter, Hamburg Tobias Huber, Hamburg
  • Christian Kubisch, Hamburg
  • John Baines, Kiel

Topics

  • Human Evolution
  • Concepts of Evolutionary Medicine
  • Human Genetics
  • Defense and Microbes
  • Brain and its Disorders
  • Learning from other Species for Human Medicine

Confirmed Speakers

Nadav Ahituv (San Francisco)
Katherine Amato (Evanston)
John Baines (Kiel)
Kirsten Bos (Jena)
Enrico Cappelini (Copenhagen)
John Collinge (London)
Evan Eichler (Seattle)
Elena Gracheva (New Haven)
Mark Hanson (Southampton)
Henrik Kaessmann (Heidelberg)
Philipp Khaitovich (Shanghai)
Johannes Krause (Jena)
Gary Lewin (Berlin)Randolph Nesse (Tempe)
Lluis Quintana-Murci (Paris)
Charlotte Rafaluk-Mohr (Oxford)
Armin Raznahan (Bethesda)
Frank Rühli (Zürich)
Patrick Schaefer (Philadelphia)
James Sikela (Aurora)
Viviane Slon (Leipzig)
Miguel Soares (Oeiras)
Sarah Tishkoff (Philadelphia)
Elisabeth Uhl (Athens)
David S. Wilson (Bighamton)

8 New Clinical Briefs in EMPH 2019

8 New Clinical Briefs in EMPH 2019

The Oxford Press open access journal Evolution, Medicine & Public Health has published eight new Clinical Briefs in 2019. They are lovely one page summaries that are perfect for teaching…or just pleasure reading.

The shapes of virulence to come 
Aakash PandeyDaniel E DawsonEvol Med Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Page 3, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoy037
Tandem repeat disorders 
Calen P RyanEvol Med Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Page 17, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoz005
Sexual selection 
Tim JanickeEdward H MorrowEvol Med Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Page 36, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoz007
Extended phenotype in evolutionary medicine 
Stephen I ValentinoNeil S GreenspanEvol Med Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 48–49, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoz009
The risks of perpetuating an evolutionary arms race in drug discovery 
Scott M LeighowJustin R PritchardEvol Med Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 64–65, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoz013
Obesity and climate adaptation 
Diego Salazar-TortosaLindsay Fernández-RhodesEvol Med Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 104–105, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoz016
The role of parasite manipulation in vector-borne diseases 
Meredith R Spence BeaulieuEvol Med Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 106–107, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoz019
Erectile dysfunction and the baculum 
Theodore C SmithLaura HechtelEvol Med Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 147–148, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoz023
12 PhD positions in Münster

12 PhD positions in Münster

The DFG-funded Research Training Group “Evolutionary Processes in Adaptation and Disease” (EvoPAD) at the University of Münster, Germany, invites applications for 12 PhD Positions and one postdoc in biology, medicine, and philosophy. Full info at https://www.uni-muenster.de/EvoPAD/application/

The positions are fixed term for 36 months, and the expected starting date is 1 April 2020. Currently, the regular working time for full (100%) employment is 39 hours and 50 minutes per week.The DFG-funded Research Training Group “Evolutionary Processes in Adaptation and Disease” (EvoPAD, GRK 2220) unites biological, medical, and philosophical research at the University of Münster. The core idea is to use the theory of evolution to understand processes leading to adaptation and/or disease. The PhD students will make use of evolutionary thinking to address basic and medical questions.  EvoPAD doctoral researchers will perform cutting-edge research in an interdisciplinary environment. Our multidisciplinary qualification program is tailored to individual career tracks, and offers opportunities for international cooperation, summer schools, and courses covering evolutionary and population genetics, bioinformatics, experimental design, philosophy of science, and bioethics. EvoPAD offers a family friendly and international atmosphere. 

TT Position at the ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine

TT Position at the ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine

The Center for Evolution & Medicine and the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU) invite applications for a full time open‐rank, tenured or tenure track faculty position. Rank and tenure status will be commensurate with experience. The anticipated start date is August, 2020.

The Center for Evolution and Medicine seeks a researcher who will advance our Precision Medicine 2.0 vision and build the evidence that evolutionary approaches produce better health outcomes (http://evmed.asu.edu/research). We value equity and inclusion in our research, teaching, and outreach. All approaches are welcome including field, clinical, lab‐based, or computational research. Clinical relevance and potential collaborations in clinical settings are encouraged. Preference will be given to candidates who enhance the Center’s current strategic research efforts (the role of sex differences in reproduction and health outcome, processes that buffer non-industrial populations from cardiometabolic diseases, mechanisms of disease tolerance and resistance, and/or long-term coevolution of humans and pathogens), and/or lead a new team-based strategic initiative. Evidence of effective teaching and interest in teaching evolutionary medicine and engaging in outreach is desired. Learn more about what The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has to offer by visiting https://thecollege.asu.edu/faculty.

This position is part of an ASU presidential initiative to advance the field of evolutionary medicine. ASU is an institution that rewards transdisciplinary, team research and innovation. The Center for Evolution and Medicine currently includes faculty members from the School of Life Sciences, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, the Department of Psychology, and the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. ASU has clinical partnerships with providers including the Mayo Clinic and Banner Hospitals and has successfully obtained clinical privileges for practicing physicians with local care providers. Newly remodeled facilities include offices, collaboration spaces, meeting rooms and laboratories in the Center for Evolution and Medicine that encourage interactions and provide space for events.

The successful candidate will be expected to develop or maintain an innovative, independent, extramurally funded research program, provide inclusive classroom instruction, contribute to curriculum development, mentor students and postdoctoral fellows, interact with a transdisciplinary group of colleagues, and provide service to the department, college and university. A competitive start‐up package will be provided.

Minimum Qualifications: a doctoral degree or an MD by the time of appointment, a track record of successful research, and an interest in using evolutionary biology to address questions about health and disease. Candidates for rank of Associate or Full Professor must have a demonstrated record of extramural funding.

Desired Qualifications: publications in refereed journals; experience working in a transdisciplinary, team environment; capacity to enhance one or more of the Center’s strategic research efforts or to generate a new transdisciplinary, team science effort consistent with the Center’s goals; ability to conduct laboratory-based research; access to or capacity to generate clinically relevant populations; demonstrated excellence in teaching and/or mentoring; demonstrated success of inclusive research and education, for example, by meeting the needs of diverse student populations and/or engaging with diverse communities.

The application deadline is November 19, 2019. For details and the application procedure, click here.

The Boeing 737 Max and Evolutionary Medicine

The Boeing 737 Max and Evolutionary Medicine

The recent Boeing 737 Max crashes provide a tragic illustration of how the core principle of evolutionary medicine can be useful for understanding failures of machines as well as bodies.

On October 29, 2019 Lion Air flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 aboard. Initials explanations focused on what was different about that individual plane and its pilots. This is a mechanic’s approach, much like most medical research. It asks what part of the mechanism failed in this individual instance.

On March 10, 2019 Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, another Boeing 737 Max, crashed six minutes after take-off. The similarities to the previous crash turned attention to shared traits of Boeing 737 Max planes. This is an engineer’s approach. It poses the question asked by evolutionary medicine: why did the forces that shaped the design leave it vulnerable to failure?

The course of events that led to the tragedy began a decade ago when airplane manufacturers were in a desperate competition to reduce fuel costs and increase range. Airbus had the advantage. The competition created strong pressure on Boeing to create a new model fast, in much the same way that pathogens can induce strong selection pressures.

Planes, like bodies, have path dependent designs that make starting from scratch nearly impossible.  So, Boeing decided to adapt an older 737 model.

Longer-range and better fuel efficiency required larger engines that could not be mounted on the older 737 models, so the wings were shifted forward on the fuselage to accommodate the larger engines. The trade-off gave fuel cost and range benefits that increased linearly with larger engine size, but risks that increased exponentially, especially stalling during the climb after take-off. A cliff-edged fitness function resulted.

In recognition of the risks, engineers added a defense system to monitor angle and airspeed and automatically push the nose down when a stall is imminent. As is the case for bodily defenses, dire risks were manifest only in unusual circumstances. Sensor failure activated the automatic stall prevention mechanism and pushed the nose down even as the plane plummeted.

Engineers who recognized the risk suggested adding redundant sensors and controls, but the changes were rejected because they would add cost and delay.  If a sensor failed, pilots could turn off the automated system.

However, the rapid change in design was not fully coordinated with pilot training so some did not know about the automatic stall prevention system and how to turn it off. Catastrophic failure required failure of only one component combined with inability of the pilot to respond quickly and accurately in an emergency situation.

Test pilots reported related problems two years ago, but their experiences were never analyzed in a way that revealed the inherent vulnerability of the Boeing 737 Max.  Today’s news suggests that their concerns may have been concealed to avoid costly delays in production.

Could the principles of evolutionary medicine have helped to prevent the tragedy of Flights 610 and 302?  We can’t know, but system failures, whether bodily or mechanical, make more sense in light of careful attention to the forces shaping the design, the historical sequence and path dependent constraints, trade offs, fitness functions, and the vulnerabilities imposed by defense systems.

Articles in The Economist, The Atlantic and other media sources provided background for this essay; it is intended to be illustrative, not definitive.