It was only a small meeting – by the standards of scientific symposia – barely 50 participants in one of the smaller lecture rooms donated for the purpose by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London. But, as Randy Nesse pointed out, it was a miracle that it was there at all and, to his knowledge, there was nothing else like it in the international world of psychiatry. It was the inaugural symposium of the Evolution and Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the RCP, EPSiG for short, and it was held on October 4th. EPSiG’s leading lights, Riadh Abed and Paul St. John-Smith were supplemented by three heavy-hitting guest speakers: Robin Dunbar, Simon Baron-Cohen, and Randolph Nesse as the case for putting evolution at the foundation of all psychiatry was forcefully made. A recurring theme was the complexity of the social environment and how this interfaces with psychiatry and psychiatric conditions. All presentations were videotaped and hyperlinks that follow will lead to them on Youtube. And for those of you who would like to know more about what EPSiG thinks evolution has to offer to psychiatry, here is an excellent paper, co-authored by Abed and St. John-Smith.
Cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz entered an operating room where her patient was already on the table. She’d had many patients in the past through the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, which trained her well for that moment. The foot sticking out from under the surgical towels, however, didn’t belong to a human. It belonged to a lion. How did being a human cardiologist prepare Barbara to work on lions? Humans and lions can’t be that similar, especially through the eyes of a doctor… right? Last Friday, Barbara kicked off the symposium “Implications of Anthropogeny for Medicine and Health” by highlighting the similarities of her patients across species. It was the first of many research talks that questioned the differences between humans and other animals and between populations of humans, as well as the similarities we have from shared origins. The University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and the Salk Institute’s Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA) joined forces with the Arizona State University (ASU) Center for Evolution and Medicine to sponsor the symposium, which was free and open to the public. During talks that were peppered with descriptions of edible liquid gold, killer sugars, battles within wombs, and studies within tombs, visitors learned about the traits and diseases that make us human (and animal) products of our world.
On the morning of Thursday November 10 at Humboldt University 7 leading evolutionary and clinical scientists will present short talks that will be of interest to the general public, as well as scientists and health professionals. It is free and open to the public and all are welcome, but registration is required. See details below and information about the afternoon session for those with a special interest or expertise. Registration and full conference information is here.
The goal of the symposium is to showcase new ideas and discoveries that use evolutionary biology to solve problems in medicine and public health, and to encourage new connections between those with an interest in evolutionary medicine. (more…)
A free live webcast of “Implications of Anthropogeny for Medicine and Health,” will be streamed from 1:00 to 5:30 pm Pacific Daylight Time on Friday October 14. The symposium is co-sponsored by CARTA and The ASU Center for Evolution & Medicine, and organized by Ajit Varki and Randolph Nesse. Special Guest: Baba Brinkman with his Rap Guide to Medicine.
A link to the live stream will be posted on the event page on the day of the event.
Speakers and titles below
Questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Kevin Foster, from the University of Oxford, visited the Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University last week to talk about competition and sociability among a variety of bacteria, some of which call our guts home. Using humorous descriptions of psychedelic broccoli, tiger and lion fights, and breathing on hornet’s nests, he walked us through the complexity of sociality found in microbes, which ranges from competition among specific bacterial cells to between-species cooperation. Foster used to study social insects, but now he applies his expertise of social behavior (and kin selection) to microbes. While kin selection provides an evolutionary explanation for many complex social behaviors in eukaryotic organisms, it may also be a good model to use in understanding the behavior of genetically similar microbes and how such behavior may affect human health.