Club EvMed: How evolutionary behavioural sciences can help us understand behaviour in a pandemic

Thursday, October 14th at 11am EDT/17:00 CEST

Join us for a conversation with Ruth Mace, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at University College London, Emily Emmott, Lecturer in Anthropology at University College London, and Gul Deniz Salali, Lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology at University College London. Prof. Mace will outline the main conclusions from taking a behavioural ecological approach to understanding the diversity of responses to behavioural responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Emmott will outline her research on how the pandemic disrupted social networks, focusing on mothers of young babies and the risk of depression. Dr. Salali will present the findings from her ongoing project that tackles vaccine hesitancy (a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines) using predictions from cultural evolution theory.

Attendees are encouraged to read Arnot et al. 2020, “How evolutionary behavioural sciences can help us understand behaviour in a pandemic,” Myers and Emmott 2021, “Communication across maternal social networks during England’s first national lockdown and its association with postnatal depressive symptoms,” and Salali and Uysal 2021, “Effective incentives for increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake.” Sign up here for the meeting link:https://duke.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYpduqurj8pHtX6sw09hbk0CAWWIoZ6x7b0.

Club EvMed: Evolutionary demography sheds light on the allelic spectrum of late-onset diseases

Thursday, October 21st at 1pm EDT/19:00 CEST

Join us for a conversation with Samuel Pavard, Associate Professor at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, and Christophe Coste, Researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Geneticists have long considered alleles involved in post-menopause mortality to be neutral as no reproduction occurs anymore. Population genetics models have predicted that genetic drift rather than purifying selection was shaping the allelic spectrum of late-onset diseases, leading to a few common variants explaining most of the diseases’ prevalences. However, recent association studies show that most susceptibility alleles to late onset diseases have low frequencies: a characteristic of alleles under negative selection. We show that susceptibility alleles to late onset diseases are under purifying selection for most known age-at-onset distributions of late-onset genetic diseases. We conclude that neutrality is probably the exception among alleles that have a deleterious effect in old age and that accounting for sociocultural factors is required to understand the full extent of the force of selection shaping senescence in humans.

Attendees are encouraged to read Pavard and Coste 2021, “Evolutionary demographic models reveal the strength of purifying selection on susceptibility alleles to late-onset diseases.” Sign up here for the meeting link: https://duke.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsdO-qrj8rHN2ZFNrYpaqLoAwWIJebhNPX.