The Evolution and Medicine Review

…bridging the gap.


Please share information about other relevant books by posting information and links as a Reply below…or just send a note to The Editors.

Recommended reading


Evolution and Medicine
  By Robert Perlman

176 pages Oxford University Press
978-0-19-966172-5 | Paperback | 30 May 2013
This book provides an accessible introduction to evolutionary medicine for students from undergraduates to medical students.


Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing

By Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Katheryn Bowers

This book extends evolutionary medicine to all species and shows how evolution can unify veterinary and human medicine.




Principles of Evolutionary Medicine

The first textbook for the field. See the glowing review in Science.



Evolution in Health and Disease (2007, 2nd Edition)

edited by Stephen C. Stearns and Jacob C. Koella
Oxford University Press (order and description)
Download Bibliography (pdf, endnote file, text) and Chapter 10.

Why we recommend this book:

Provides a state-of-the art account of current developments in the field etc.

Review in The New England Journal of Medicine

Evolutionary Medicine and Health: New Perspectives (2007, 2nd edition)

edited by Wenda R. Trevathan, E. O. Smith and James McKenna
Oxford University Press (order; the OUP companion website)
Chapter 1.
Download Bibliography (endnote file, provided by E.O Smith).

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Why we recommend this book:

Provides a view of the field emphasizing work by antropologists.

Why we get sick: The new science of Darwinian Medicine (1994)

Randolph M. Nesse and George Williams
Times, New York (order)
Reviews: NEJM.

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Why we recommend this book:

Groundbreaking book describing the field for the first time…

The Evolution of Infectious Disease (1994)

Paul W. Ewald
Oxford University Press (order)

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Why we recommend this book:

A clear and interesting introduction to evolutionary approaches to infectious disease.

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Then a brief summary of the book if available


  1. Cor Zonneveld

    Diseases and Human Evolution
    Ethne Barnes
    University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque

    General introduction to origin of all kind of diseases from an evolutionary point of view. Addresses a broad audience.

    From back cover:
    Recent interest in new diseases, such as HIV / AIDS and Ebola, and the resurgence of older diseases like tuberculosis have fostered questions about the history of human infectious diseases. How did they evolve? Where did they originate? What natural factors have stalled the progression of diseases or made them possible? How does a microorganism become a pathogen? How have infectious diseases changed through time? What can we do to control their occurrence? Ethne Barnes offers answers to these questions, using information from history and medicine as well as from anthropology. She focuses on changes in the patterns of human behavior through cultural evolution and how they have affected the development of human diseases.

  2. Cor Zonneveld

    Cancer – the Evolutionary Legacy
    Mel Greaves
    Oxford University Press

    An evolutionary perspective on Cancer, for a non-specialist audience.
    From the website of Oxford University Press:
    In this lucid and entertaining book, Mel Greaves argues that evolutionary biology offers a new perspective that can help us unravel the riddle of cancer. Why, for example, have women always had such a raw deal in the cancer stakes? And why are some cancers, such as prostate cancer, increasing in incidence?

    Greaves argues that Darwinian selection millions of years ago has endowed our genes and cells with inherently cancerous credentials, and this is exacerbated by our rapid social evolution and exotic behavioural traits that outpace genetic adaptation. The book is full of novel insights, the latest scientific discoveries, and wonderful historical anecdotes. It provides a unique portrait of cancer, past, present, and future.

  3. D M Theis

    Adaptation and Natural Selection
    George Christopher Williams
    Princeton University Press (1996)

    ISBN-10: 0691026157 ISBN-13: 978-0691026152

    [An] excellently reasoned essay in defense of Darwinian selection as a sufficient theory to explain evolution without the necessity of group selection, population adaptation, or progress. -R. C. Lewontin, Science

  4. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
    David Quammen
    Bodley Head 2012
    ISBN-10: 1847920101 ISBN-13: 978-1847920102

    This book talks about how evolution in dangerous zoological infectious diseases can cause transmission to humans.

    First, a horse in Brisbane falls ill: fever, swelling, bloody froth. Then thirteen others perish. The foreman at the stables becomes ill and the trainer dies. What is going on?

    It takes months to establish that the cause is a virus which has travelled from a tree-dwelling bat to horse, and from horse to man. The bats had lived undisturbed for centuries in Queensland’s eucalyptus forests. Now the forests are being cut down and the colonies of bats are roosting elsewhere…

    Spillover tells the story of such diseases. As globalization spreads and as we destroy the ancient ecosystems, we encounter strange and dangerous infections that originate in animals but that can be transmitted to humans. Diseases that were contained are being set free and the results are potentially catastrophic.

    In a journey that takes him from southern China to the Congo, from Cameroon to Kinshasa, David Quammen tracks these infections to their source and asks what we can do to prevent some new pandemic spreading across the face of the earth.

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