Graduate training in Germany

Graduate training in Germany

Education and Research Opportunities in Evolutionary Medicine

University of Münster, Germany

Master level:Evolutionary medicine can be studied as part of the 2-year Master of Science (MSc) study programmes ‘Biosciences’, ‘Biotechnology’ and ‘Biomedicine’, all within the Faculty of Biology ( Within these study programmes, teaching modules and the topic of the Master thesis can be chosen from a large range of offers, such that several 1-month advanced modules, up to two 2-month specialisation modules and the Master thesis (based on a research project of up to 1-year length) can be done on topics in the field of evolutionary medicine. In particular, within these MSc study programmes, the following module offers an introduction to the field of evolutionary medicine:

Advanced Module “Evolutionary Medicine”: The 1-month interdisciplinary block course “Evolutionary Medicine” aims to train MSc students in the application of evolutionary principles to the understanding of health and disease. Topics include, e.g., the evolution of resistance of bacteria, evolution of disease-relevant genes, genome-wide association studies or the evolution of transposable elements. The course comprises both lectures as well as hands-on practical work in the lab.

More info:

Research Module “Evolutionary Medicine”

PhD level:

The University of Münster offers a wide range of research opportunities for PhD students in the field of Evolutionary Medicine. Research work to obtain a PhD degree (Dr. rer. nat.) from the Faculty of Biology can be done in one of the labs of the Faculty of Biology or the Faculty of Medicine, including the University Hospital Münster (UKM).

The following graduate programmes provide specialised training on topics related to evolutionary medicine:

Research Training Group “Evolutionary Processes in Adaptation in Disease (EvoPAD)”

The Research Training Group Evolutionary Processes in Adaptation and Disease (EvoPAD) is a structured programme for doctoral students funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). EvoPAD unites biological, medical, and philosophical research with the core idea to use the theory of evolution to understand processes leading to adaptation and/or disease. The programme focusses on three core research areas: (A) Evolutionary processes in infectious diseases, (B) Plasticity of genomes and phenotypes and its relevance for health and disease, and (C) Philosophy of evolution and disease.

More info:

Münster Graduate School of Evolution

The Münster Graduate School of Evolution (MGSE) is an institutionalized, interdisciplinary association of researchers at the University of Münster, bridging the faculties of geosciences, biology, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. The MGSE provides an interdisciplinary network of excellent scientists working on diverse topics in evolution and a study programme for doctoral students of the different faculties in the general field of evolution. The programme, as well as a specific mentoring system ensure interdisciplinary networking. The doctoral students of the MGSE address a broad range of questions, from the evolution of earth to the evolution of evolutionary theory.

More info:

Graduate training in Evolutionary Medicine – Kiel, Germany

Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Evolution (MAMBE)

The Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Evolution (MAMBE) is an international program, taught entirely in English, and it is based on the fruitful collaboration between Kiel University and the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön. Together with further collaborations (with the Leibniz Science Campus EvoLUNG (Evolutionary Medicine of the Lung), and also the Collaborative Research Centre 1182, Origin and Function of Metaorganisms), it specifically combines the areas of evolution and molecular biology – a combination which has emerged as an extremely successful interdisciplinary research field in recent years but has not yet been available in academic education.

The MAMBE curriculum is founded on the idea that interdisciplinary thinking enhances in-depth understanding of biological phenomena and also applied medical problems (e.g., Evolutionary Medicine). For example, the complexity that are characteristic for many molecular processes, including those underlying human disease, can often only be understood by taking into account their evolutionary origin. Similarly, the evolution of particular traits, including those underlying virulence or antibiotic resistance of human pathogens, may also often depend on the underlying molecular mechanisms.

MAMBE will foster such interdisciplinary connections. In the first two semesters, students will learn about the basic mechanisms and processes of molecules and evolution. Additionally, they will enhance their skill set in scientific communication and management (e.g., preparation of seminar talks, or writing of grant applications, etc). During the third semester, the acquired competences will be applied to real research life in the laboratory and field. The fourth semester will consist of the Master thesis.

Master of Science in Medical Life Sciences (MedLife)

The Master of Science in Medical Life Sciences is hosted by the Medical Faculty of Kiel University, coordinated by the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB). Translational medical research “from bench to bedside” is one of the fastest growing fields, the demand for experts is growing more rapidly than can be currently met. Scientific results gained in cell biology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and also evolutionary biology need to be translated into medical applications before they can be utilized for the benefit of people, e.g. in disease prevention and therapy.

The curriculum has four focus areas: Evolutionary Medicine, inflammation, oncology, and longevity. The focus area on evolutionary medicine looks at the dynamic interrelations between environmental factors and the human genetic make-up that influence the development of and susceptibility to diseases. Why do we suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity? Why are certain genetic variants maintained within populations despite their disease risk? Why do pathogens evolve drug resistance and can we take measures against it? Evolutionary medicine aims to bridge the gap between evolutionary biology and medicine. It focuses not only on a mechanistic understanding of medical conditions, but also considers their evolutionary origins to ultimately help improve innovative research in biomedicine.

Graduate programs:

International Max-Planck Research School for Evolutionary Biology (IMPRS Evolbio)

Max-Planck Insitute for Evolutionary Biology, Ploen; Kiel University, Kiel; Geomar Helmholtz-Center for Ocean Research, Kiel.

The International Max-Planck Research School for Evolutionary Biology (IMPRS Evolbio) is an international graduate school dedicated to highest level research and training in all areas of contemporary Evolutionary Biology, including connections to applied fields such as Evolutionary Medicine. The graduate school is embedded in the thriving research environment of Northern Germany. Since 2010, the IMPRS for Evolutionary Biology has been operated by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, the  Kiel University and the GEOMAR – Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research.

Graduate education is based on individual doctoral research projects and also a training program. The latter includes mentoring by a thesis advisory committee (TAC) as well as an individually coordinated curriculum of regular lab and soft skill courses, workshops or seminars. The training is supplemented by scientific presentations at our annual IMPRS retreat or by attending conferences.
The doctoral thesis and its funding by the IMPRS is designed for three years. English is the official language within our graduate school, German beginner courses are offered for foreign students.

Leibniz Science Campus Evolutionary Medicine of the Lung (EvoLUNG)

Forschungszentrum Borstel, Borstel; Kiel University, Kiel; Max-Planck Insitute for Evolutionary Biology, Ploen

The Leibniz Science Campus Evolutionary Medicine of the Lung (EvoLUNG) integrates evolutionary theory with lung research to achieve a better understanding of chronic lung diseases such as tuberculosis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The campus focuses on three main research topics, including: (1) the spread and evolution of multi-drug resistant pathogens of the lung, (2) the evolutionary origin and possible benefits of disease genes, and (3) the interplay between four key players: disease susceptibility genes, microbiota, pathogens, and abiotic environmental stressors.

The Obesity-Inflammation Connection Explained

The Obesity-Inflammation Connection Explained

West-Eberhard, M. J. (2018). Nutrition, the visceral immune system, and the evolutionary origins of pathogenic obesity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201809046.

The long-awaited article on the evolution of obesity and its interactions with the immune system has just been published in PNAS, open access. This may offer a key to the pathogenic effects of obesity via inflammation.

Abstract: The global obesity epidemic is the subject of an immense, diversely specialized research effort. An evolutionary analysis reveals connections among disparate findings, starting with two well-documented
facts: Obesity-associated illnesses (e.g., type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease), are especially common in: (i) adults with abdominal obesity, especially enlargement of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), a tissue with important immune functions; and (ii) individuals with poor fetal nutrition whose nutritional input increases later in life. I hypothesize that selection favored the evolution of increased lifelong investment in VAT in individuals likely to suffer lifelong malnutrition because of its importance in fighting intraabdominal infections. Then, when increased nutrition violates the adaptive fetal prediction of lifelong nutritional deficit, preferential VAT investment could contribute to abdominal obesity and chronic inflammatory disease. VAT prioritization may help explain several patterns of nutrition-related disease: the paradoxical increase of chronic disease with increased food availability in recently urbanized and migrant populations; correlations between poor fetal nutrition, improved childhood (catch-up) growth, and adult metabolic syndrome; and survival differences between children with marasmus and kwashiorkor malnutrition. Fats and sugars can aggravate chronic inflammation via effects on intestinal bacteria regulating gut permeability to visceral pathogens. The extremes in a nutrition-sensitive trade-off between visceral (immune-function) vs. subcutaneous (body shape) adiposity may have been favored by selection in highly stratified premedicine societies. Altered adipose allocation in populations with long histories of social stratification and malnutrition may be the result of genetic accommodation of developmental responses
to poor maternal/fetal conditions, increasing their vulnerability to inflammatory disease.

Mismatch Talks at Michigan

Mismatch Talks at Michigan

The University of Michigan Evolution and Human Adaptation Program has a fine series of talks coming up. Thursdays 1:30-3:00 in East Hall on the Ann Arbor campus. See this link for details.

Feb 14th  Beverly Strassman (Michigan)
Feb 21st   Marco Del Giudice (New Mexico)
Feb 28th   Alyssa Crittenden (UNLV)
Mar 14th  William Parker (Duke)
Mar 21st   Shinobu Kitayama (Michigan)
Mar 28th   Stephen Colarelli (Central Michigan)
Apr 4th     Charles Nunn (Duke)
Apr 11th   Bruce Robertson (Bard)
Apr 18th   Douglas Kenrick (ASU)

Share your creations on EvMedEd

Share your creations on EvMedEd

Creating a course on evolution and medicine?  Taking one?  Then you need EvMedEd…and EvMedEd needs you. Your articles, videos, syllabi, and other teaching resources will receive wide attention if you share them on EvMedEd.

EvMedEd provides links to over 1500 authoritative education resources for evolutionary medicine. Teachers and students will find it especially useful, but it is also for scientists, clinicians and anyone curious about how evolutionary biology is being used to understand disease and improve health. It can be used to create evolutionary medicine classes, to add content to other classes, or to find relevant short videos or papers during hospital rounds or informal discussions.

EvMedEd  is sponsored by ISEMPH and the Arizona State University Center for Evolution and Medicine. If you are a Full Members of ISEMPH, log into your account to access advanced options on a special members-only search and download page. If you are not already a member, join by December 15 to get a 20% discount by using the code ISEMPH2019. 

Adding your articles videos and syllabi will bring them to wide attention and will help others create better courses faster. Staff are available for a short time to add your contributions in whatever way is easiest for you. 

So, please contribute your articles and other teaching resources today! Questions? Send a note to

ISEMPH Meeting in Zurich

ISEMPH Meeting in Zurich

Discounted early registration and abstract submission are now open.

Join or renew ISEMPH membership at a 20% discount until December 15. Use code “ISEMPH2019” at checkout.  

The Fifth Annual Meeting of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health will be at the University of Zurich, Switzerland August 13-16. Students, researchers, clinicians and others are all welcome. 

ISEMPH 2019 is profoundly interdisciplinary meeting that emphasizes the multiple interfaces between evolutionary biology and human health in medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, behavioral ecology and epidemiology. Students and clinicians at all stages of professional development are especially welcome. Only 300 seats are available, so register early. Cancellations before June 1 are eligible for a refund.

The Hosting Committee is chaired by Frank Rühli, Prof. Dr. Dr. med. (Professor of Evolutionary Medicine,  University of Zurich, Switzerland), and Nicole Bender, MD, PhD (University of Zurich, Switzerland).  
The Program Committee is chaired by Jacobus (Koos) Boomsma, PhD (Chair) , Professor of Evolutionary Biology (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Confirmed Keynote Speakers 

  • Prof. Bernard J. Crespi, Simon Fraser University, Canada: How evolutionary biology can frame a unified theory for understanding human mental illness.
  • Prof. Dario Valenzano, Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Germany: African killifishes shed light on the genomic basis of life history trait evolution in vertebrates.
  • Prof. Kayla King, University of Oxford, UK: Protectors vs. killers: microbes within the host as drivers of pathogen evolution.
  • Prof. Verena Schünemann, University of Zurich, Switzerland: Ancient DNA and pathogens: uncovering the past of human diseases
  • Winners of the George C. Williams Prize and the Gilbert Omenn Prizewill also give plenary talks

The mission of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health’s is to foster communication among scientists, students, clinicians and public health professionals who use evolutionary insights to improve medical research and practice, and information on human health and disease to advance evolutionary biology. Previous meetings have been at Arizona State University, Duke University, Groningen, Netherlands (with ESEB), and Park City, Utah. The 2020 meeting will be at the University of Georgia, the 2021 meeting will be in Lisbon. 

ISEMPH Membership at a 20% Discount

ISEMPH Membership at a 20% Discount

Scientists, scholars, clinicians and students with an interest in evolution and medicine are invited to  join the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health or renew their memberships at a 20% discount until December 15.  Use code ISEMPH2018 at checkout

Full Members get many benefits: 

  • Reduced meeting fees (ISEMPH 2019 will be  in Zurich August 13-16)
  • Early notice about events, funding opportunities and the ISEMPH Newsletter
  • A $1000 discount on publication fees for articles in the Society’s journal, Evolution, Medicine & Public Health 
  • A 25% discount on all Oxford University Press academic books (use your email or ISEMPH member number)
  • Notification of new publications in Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health (1 click unsubscribe)
  • Advanced search and download functions for all 1500+ resources on EvMedEd
  • Nomination and voting rights in Society elections
  • Your information listed online to facilitate connections with other members (you can specify what is displayed)
  • Access to more information about other members of ISEMPH
  • Opportunities to collaborate with other members to help develop the field of evolutionary medicine

Gratis membership is also available. It includes only a newsletter subscription and an opportunity to list selected information on the EvMed Network to facilitate connections with others who share your interests

Full information on joining ISEMPH is here.