The Evolution & Medicine Review
Club EvMed in February

Club EvMed in February

Thursday, February 10th at 12pm EST/18:00 CET
Candidate gene studies have taught us little about trait genetics but a lot about the fallibility of the scientific process

Join us for a conversation with Matt Keller, Associate Professor in the Dept. of Psychology & Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The candidate gene (CG) approach has been used for 30 years to investigate the influence of specific polymorphisms in genes thought a-priori to be related to complex traits. Thousands of such studies have been and continue to be conducted, most reporting significant associations. In the last 15 years, a much different approach, the genome-wide association study (GWAS), has been used to investigate nearly all common genetic polymorphisms across the genome at once. Using sample sizes orders of magnitude larger than typical CG studies, GWASs have made tens of thousands of reliable discoveries, but the effect sizes are typically much smaller than those detected in CG studies, and specific CG hypotheses have failed to replicate when directly interrogated in GWAS data. What might explain these apparent contradictions? It is possible that CG studies measure traits with higher precision or that they investigate less complex “endophenotypes,” but neither explanation holds up under scrutiny. Rather, CG studies suffer from many factors—publication bias, inconsistent methodological practices, low priors, and low power—that increase the false positive rate in any field. We argue that the many positive findings using the GC approach are largely false positives and are a humbling reminder of the fallibility of the scientific process as currently practiced.

Attendees are encouraged to read Duncan and Keller 2011, “A critical review of the first 10 years of candidate gene-by-environment interaction research in psychiatry” and Border et al. 2019, “No support for historical candidate gene or candidate gene-by-interaction hypotheses for major depression across multiple large samples.” Attendees may also be interested in a response to critique (Border et al. 2019) and a popular media article about this research (Yong). Sign up here for the meeting link: https://duke.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEodOqsqD4qGtIh9AW_utDNUiz9ubSHwDw5.

Thursday, February 24th at 12pm EST/18:00 CET: Evolutionary medicine helps explain regional differences in pandemic dynamics: immunity, symbiosis, and COVID-19

Join us for a conversation with William Parker, CEO of WPLabs, Inc., and Dawit Wolday, Associate Professor of Medicine at Mekelle University College of Health Sciences. Data have been mounting for more than 50 years pointing toward the importance of “complex eukaryotic symbionts” in immune system development and function. These symbionts include protists, cestodes and nematodes, most of which have been lost to humans in high-income countries. Such loss is a direct result of the much-needed introduction of “systems hygiene” that effectively prevents pandemics of some communicable diseases. Unfortunately, available evidence indicates that the loss of complex eukaryotic symbionts in high-income countries can be defined as an evolutionary mismatch that leads to immune dysregulation and pathologic inflammation. With the immunological effects of these symbionts in mind, the speakers predicted that the presence of complex eukaryotic symbionts in areas without extensive systems hygiene would effectively decrease the clinical impact of COVID-19. This prediction was subsequently supported strongly by epidemiological evidence and eventually borne out in a study by Tobias Rinke de Wit, Dawit Wolday and colleagues in Ethiopia. Thus, evolutionary medicine proved a useful tool in understanding and anticipating regional differences in the clinical impact of COVID-19, and points toward the vital importance of understanding symbiotic relationships in the context of evolution and medicine.

Attendees are encouraged to read Parker et al. 2021, “Between a hygiene rock and a hygienic hard place: avoiding SARS-CoV-2 while needing environmental exposures for immunity” and Wolday et al. 2021, “Effect of co-infection with intestinal parasites on COVID-19 severity: a prospective observational cohort study.” Sign up here for the meeting link: https://duke.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0ucOmopjkuGtEnHVSe_bx-9cfLBWb2Ir5A.

Two January ClubEvMed discussions

Two January ClubEvMed discussions

Spring 2022 Events

We’re pleased to announce our spring Club EvMed lineup. See you in 2022!

Control system failures and evolutionary medicine

Tuesday, January 11th at 12pm EST/18:00 CET

Join us for a conversation with Robert Perlman, Professor Emeritus of the Dept. of Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences at the University of Chicago, and Randolph Nesse, Research Professor of Life Sciences and Founding Director of the Center for Evolution & Medicine at Arizona State University. They will lead a discussion about how natural selection shaped the thousands of control systems that make life possible, how their failure modes can help us understand disease, and the evolutionary reasons why some are especially vulnerable to failure. The goal is to create a community interested in developing work at this intersection, so please come prepared to share examples of how we can study why some control systems are vulnerable to failure.

Attendees are encouraged to read Perlman 2019*, “An evolutionary view of homeostasis: bioenergetics, life history theory, and responses to pregnancy” and Nesse 2021, “Evolutionary medicine needs engineering expertise.” Sign up here for the meeting link.
*Note: If you do not have access to this article, please contact us for assistance.

A Natural History of the Future

Tuesday, January 18th at 12pm EST/18:00 CET

picture of Rob Dunn and the cover of his book, A Natural History of the Future

Join us for a conversation with Rob Dunn, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University. Drawing on his recent book, Rob Dunn argues that humans remain far more dependent on nature and nature’s regularities/rules/laws than tends to be presupposed. Focusing on the special case of microbiomes, Dunn considers the question, just how many microbial species do we depend on and how might we ensure that they travel with us into the future? In concluding, he will open up the question to the group to discuss what the most likely scenario is with regard to the intergenerational transfer of the species on which we depend as well as what the hoped for scenario might look like. Sign up here for the meeting link.

Club EvMed in February

ClubEvMed Fall Schedule

The schedule for ClubEvMed has just been announced. See the website for details and sign up for the mailing list to get a weekly update and invitation to register for each week’s meeting.

Club EvMed is a web series launched in April 2020 to keep the evolutionary medicine community connected during a time of pandemic-related social distancing. These regularly-held virtual meetings are styled around the idea of a journal club, with a different topic and discussion leader each time.

Club EvMed is organized by the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health (ISEMPH) and five evolutionary medicine centers: the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM)the UCLA Evolutionary Medicine Interdisciplinary Centerthe ASU Center for Evolution and Medicinethe Pittsburgh Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicineand the University of Zurich Institute of Evolutionary MedicineSpeakers are identified by a committee, which is led by Charles Nunn of TriCEM and features input from all of the organizers. Meredith Spence Beaulieu (TriCEM) manages the meetings.

All are welcome to attend Club EvMed! If you’re interested in evolutionary medicine, we also recommend engaging with ISEMPH by joining as a member or as a newsletter subscriber, which can be done here.

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The new tangled bank of disease: from protein space to injection networks and COVID-19 disparities

Thursday, August 20th at 12pm ET

Join us for a conversation with Brandon Ogbunu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. In this discussion, Dr. Ogbunu applies Darwin’s “tangled bank” analogy to several modern problems in public health and biomedicine. In doing so, he highlights the increasing eminence of nonlinearity in understanding disease systems, ranging in scope from the molecular determinants of drug resistance to ethnic disparities in COVID-19 prevalence in the United States. Sign up here for the meeting link.

Racial differences in host immune response to Helicobacter pylori virulence factors – does this help to explain the gastric cancer racial disparity in the United States?

Thursday, August 27th at 11am ET

Join us for a conversation with Meira Epplein, Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences at Duke University, and Julia Butt, Senior Research Associate in the Infections and Cancer Epidemiology research group at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori is the leading cause of gastric cancer, but only 1-3% of individuals with chronic infection will develop cancer. Individuals with antibodies to H. pylori virulence factors CagA and VacA have been found to be at a 2- to 4-fold increase in risk of gastric cancer. Gastric cancer is significantly more common among African Americans than non-Hispanic white Americans, and whether this is due in part to the host immune response to H. pylori is unknown. Attendees are encouraged to read Butt et al. 2020, “Differences in antibody levels to H. pylori virulence factors VacA and CagA among African Americans and whites in the Southeast USA.” Sign up here for the meeting link.

Club EvMed conversation led by Amy Boddy (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Thursday, September 3rd at 12pm ET

This conversation will also feature counterpoints from David Haig (Harvard) and Gunter Wagner (Yale). Full details to be announced soon, but you can register in advance here.

The evolution of human birth timing: how selection has shaped the genetic landscape

Thursday, September 10th at 12pm ET

This conversation will be led by Lou Muglia (Burroughs Wellcome Fund), Antonis Rokas (Vanderbilt), and Tony Capra (Vanderbilt). Full details to be announced soon, but you can register in advance here.

Club EvMed conversation led by Dan Lieberman (Harvard)

Thursday, September 17th at 12pm ET

Full details to be announced soon, but you can register in advance here.

Club EvMed: Student Spotlight

Thursday, September 24th at 11am ET

For this special Club EvMed, we will hear 12-minute research talks from graduate students Lafi Aldakak (University of Zurich Institute for Evolutionary Medicine), Chenlu Di (University of Arizona), and Iman Hamid (Duke University). Full details to be announced soon, but you can register in advance here.

Club EvMed conversation led by Joseph Graves (NC A&T)

week of September 28th

Full details and registration link to be announced soon.

Assessing SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility in 400 species with comparative genomics

Tuesday, October 6th at 12pm ET

Join us for a conversation with Elinor Karlsson, Associate Professor in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the director of the Vertebrate Genomics Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a zoonotic pathogen that readily infects some non-human species, posing a risk to humans, if viral reservoirs are established in other species, and to other species, particularly those already endangered. Data on susceptibility and pathology in non-human species is sparse, with natural infection documented in fewer than a dozen species, but genomic datasets are far more substantial. We compiled genomic data for over 400 species and used the sequence of ACE2, the host receptor protein, to make a prediction of SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility. We also show that the viral binding domain of ACE2 is enriched for signals of natural selection in bats, the proposed source of the progenitor virus. By leveraging existing data resources, we completed this work in just four weeks in the midst of a global pandemic. While the risk predictions are preliminary, this work demonstrates how open genomic resources can be leveraged to address questions never envisioned in their original design. Sign up here for the meeting link.

How recent characterizations of somatic mutations in humans inform an evolutionary understanding of aging and cancer

Monday, October 19th at 1pm ET

This conversation will be led by James DeGregori (University of Colorado, Denver). Full details to be announced soon, but you can register in advance here.

Club EvMed conversation led by Tobias Lenz (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology)

Tuesday, October 27th at 1pm ET

Full details to be announced soon, but you can register in advance here.

Club EvMed in February

Sign up for ClubEvMed Now!

ClubEvMed has a new website at http://ClubEvMed.org. Check out upcoming events, videos of past webinars, and sign up for notifications so you can register for future events.

Next event Monday, July 20th at 12pm ET
Hemoglobin and high-altitude hypoxia: evolution and public health
Join us for a conversation with Cynthia Beall

Club EvMed is a web series launched in April 2020 to keep the evolutionary medicine community connected during a time of pandemic-related social distancing. These regularly-held virtual meetings are styled around the idea of a journal club, with a different topic and discussion leader each time.

Club EvMed is organized by the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health (ISEMPH) and five evolutionary medicine centers: the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM)the UCLA Evolutionary Medicine Interdisciplinary Centerthe ASU Center for Evolution and Medicinethe Pittsburgh Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicineand the University of Zurich Institute of Evolutionary MedicineSpeakers are identified by a committee, which is led by Charles Nunn of TriCEM and features input from all of the organizers. Meredith Spence Beaulieu (TriCEM) manages the meetings.

All are welcome to attend Club EvMed! If you’re interested in evolutionary medicine, we also recommend engaging with ISEMPH by joining as a member or as a newsletter subscriber, which can be done here.

Evolutionary Psychiatry Conference Oct 22-27

Evolutionary Psychiatry Conference Oct 22-27

ETHOLOGY, PSYCHOLOGY, PSYCHIATRY: AN EVOLUTIONARY APPROACH
October 22-27, 2019
Erice, Sicily, ITALY

This will be an important meeting for all interested in evolutionary psychiatry. The setting, in an old monastery on a mountaintop in Sicily, is stunning. It is open to all. Registration and abstract submission are open now.

WORKSHOP ORGANIZERS

Martin Brüne (Ruhr Universität – Bochum, Germany)
Alfonso Troisi (Università di Roma – Tor Vergata, Italy)
Paola Palanza and Stefano Parmigiani (Università di Parma, Italy)

The overall purpose of the Workshop is to discuss the implications of ethology and evolutionary psychology for psychological and psychiatric research and practice. It will focus on a diverse array of topics, including the analysis of nonverbal behaviour, behavioural ecology, particularly in the form of life history theory, and evolutionary genetics of psychiatric disorders. The format will involve talks by international authorities who have been engaged in such research. The workshop will be highly interdisciplinary including aspects involving behavioural and social neuroscience as well as psychopharmacology and psychotherapy

Keynote: Randolph Nesse – Arizona State University, Tempe (AZ), USA . Good reasons for bad feelings: insights from the frontier of evolutionary psychiatry

SPEAKERS & TOPICS

Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

Nurturing Nature: Interaction effects in neurobehavioral development

Caroline Blanchard

Of mice and men: Evolutionary, functional and translational approaches to behavioral neuroscience

Martin Brüne

One fits it all? Why psychiatry needs to entertain the whole spectrum of evolutionary theory

Marina Butovskaya

Reproductive success in traditional East-African societies: individual behavior, genes and sociocultural environment

Carlos Crivelli

The Behavioral Ecology View of Facial Displays

Marco Del Giudice

Form follows function: an evolutionary model of the structure of psychopathology

Bruce Ellis

Developmental adaptation to stress: An evolutionary perspective

Holly Ewald

Infection, immune responses, and depression

Paul Ewald

Genes, germs and schizophrenia

Pier Francesco Ferrari

Early Experiences, Brain plasticity and social-cognitive development in primates

Marinus van IJzendoorn

Consequences of deprivation and enrichment in chimpanzees, mice and rats: Lessons to be learnt for child development

Andrea Migliano

Foraging origins of human cumulative culture

Randolph Nesse

Good Reasons for bad feelings: insights from the frontier of evolutionary biology

Paola Palanza

Why Ethology matters for human psychology and psychiatry: from mice to men – and women

Stefano Parmigiani

Why Ethology matters for human psychology and psychiatry: from mice to men – and women

Davide Ponzi

Sex, Sex & Sex: Thoughts, behaviors and hormones. Which influences which?

Alfonso Troisi

An evolutionary critique of the harmful dysfunction analysis (HDA) of mental disorder

Daniel Wilson

Adapting Health Sciences Education to Evolution