The Evolution & Medicine Review

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.


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.