The $5,000 George C Williams Prize is awarded by the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health for the paper judged to be the best research paper published in the preceding year in the Society’s Journal, Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health. The 2016 Committee, Gillian Bentley, David Haig and Andrew Read (Chair), award the GC Williams prize to the paper Adaptive learning can result in a failure to profit from good conditions: implications for understanding depression by Pete C Trimmer, Andrew D. Higginson, Tim W. Fawcett, John M. McNamara, and Alasdair I. Houston. This paper postulates that depression is maladaptive for the depressed person but is an unavoidable side effect of learning rules that are themselves adaptive and so have been favored by natural selection. The idea that many cases of depression are a reaction of an essentially healthy and well-evolved brain to a definable set of experiences makes strong, testable predictions. If confirmed, novel therapeutic and preventive interventions can be envisaged. An oral presentation based on the article will be provided by Andy Higginson at the 2016 ISEMPH meeting.
ISEMPH and the journal are grateful to Doris Williams and the other donors who make this prize possible. EMPH welcomes your submissions. Papers published during 2016 will be eligible for next year’s award. ISEMPH members get a substantial discount on publication fees.