Nikki Burt fires in this commentary on the “Frontiers of Evolutionary Medicine.” See also, Ashley Snyder’s coverage of the same session.
Stephen Stearns organized one of the last ISEMPH sessions “Frontiers of Evolution,” and, as you would expect, it had a diverse group of contributors representing a range of evolutionary medicine topics, global regions, and career stages.
Cynthia Beall kicked off the session as its first speaker presenting on “Hemoglobin Concentration and Reproductive Success of Tibetan Highlanders.” Beall and colleagues conclude that these distinct phenotypes are linked to better reproductive success but that more work needs to be done to better understand the mechanism for this and the genetics at play in the community.
Following Beall was Michelle Freed from Durham University presenting the work of her fellow Masters students and advisor Gillian Bentley “Is it Time to Re-evaluate the Mismatch Concept?” This speculative paper presented how the mismatch concept is often improperly applied both by practitioners and pseudoscientists. The presentation generated a thoughtful discussion from researchers around the field.
Speaker Emmanuel Milot presented his research groups work on “Eco-evolutionary Dynamics and Natural Selection on Health Related Traits in Human Populations.” The presentation focused on some of the preliminary work being done with the demographic data from their extremely well documented French Canadian Sample. Integration of these greater than 300 year genealogies with genetic data is the next step of the research.
Closing out this final session was Hillard Kaplan presenting for his group on their work “Cancer in an Indigenous Native South American Population: Initial Insights Into the Natural History of Cancer in Traditional Subsistence Populations. This presentation of new data on cancer rates for the Tsimane is the first step in understanding differences in cancer types and rates between individuals living under traditional subsistence patterns and WEIRD populations.
The session was diverse and highlighted just a sliver of the wide variety of research and theory being done in the field of Evolutionary Medicine.