Diseases of Modern Environments–Workshop Reports

This post compiles reports from the five Workshops at the Meeting Evolution and Diseases of Modern Environments, at the Berlin Charite Hospital, October, 2009.  The workshops were held in conjunction with The World Health Summit.

Diet and Nutrition Workshop Report

Early Development and Reproductive Health Workshop Report

Evolution and Mental Disorders Workshop Report

Sanitizing the Hygiene Hypothesis Workshop Report

Developmental Aspects Of Diseases Of Modern Environments Workshop Report

Making evolutionary biology a basic science for medicine–PNAS

This article summarizes suggestions from several groups that have considered how evolutionary biology can be useful in medicine, what physicians should learn about it, and when and how they should learn it.  It is based on a Sackler Colloquium at the USA National Academy in April 2009.
The paper is open access, a pdf can be downloaded here,

Making evolutionary biology a basic science for medicine

Nesse RM, Bergstrom CT, Ellison PT, Flier JS, Gluckman P, Govindaraju DR, Niethammer D, Omenn GS, Perlman RL, Schwartz MD, Thomas MG, Stearns SC, Valle D.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Published online before print November 16, 2009, doi:10.1073/pnas.0906224106.
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/11/12/0906224106.abstract

Abstract

New applications of evolutionary biology in medicine are being discovered at an accelerating rate, but few physicians have sufficient educational background to use them fully. This article summarizes suggestions from several groups that have considered how evolutionary biology can be useful in medicine, what physicians should learn about it, and when and how they should learn it. Our general conclusion is that evolutionary biology is a crucial basic science for medicine. In addition to looking at established evolutionary methods and topics, such as population genetics and pathogen evolution, we highlight questions about why natural selection leaves bodies vulnerable to disease. Knowledge about evolution provides physicians with an integrative framework that links otherwise disparate bits of knowledge. It replaces the prevalent view of bodies as machines with a biological view of bodies shaped by evolutionary processes. Like other basic sciences, evolutionary biology needs to be taught both before and during medical school. Most introductory biology courses are insufficient to establish competency in evolutionary biology. Premedical students need evolution courses, possibly ones that emphasize medically relevant aspects. In medical school, evolutionary biology should be taught as one of the basic medical sciences. This will require a course that reviews basic principles and specific medical applications, followed by an integrated presentation of evolutionary aspects that apply to each disease and organ system. Evolutionary biology is not just another topic vying for inclusion in the curriculum; it is an essential foundation for a biological understanding of health and disease.

Early Development and Reproductive Health (Workshop report)

Early Development and Reproductive Health in Later Life

One of five workshops in a conference on
Evolution and Diseases of Modern Environments
Organized by Randolph Nesse, at the Berlin Charité,  October 13-14, 2009
In conjunction with The World Health Summit
Sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation

Session leaders: Gillian Bentley and Grazyna Jasienska

In session: Gillian Bentley, Benjamin Campbell, Kathryn Clancy, Marco Del Giudice, Vivette Glover, Grazyna Jasienska, Diana Kuh, Shanthi Muttukrishna, Pablo Nepomnaschy, Alejandra Nuñez de la Mora, Janet Rich-Edwards, Norah Spears, Hamish Spencer, Beverly Strassmann, John Wiebe

Raporteurs: Kathryn Clancy and Benjamin Campbell

In evolutionary medicine so far, a lot of emphasis has been placed on understanding disease, and with the exception of cancer reproductive function is especially understudied. We want to look at the relationship between early development and adult reproduction but we have little data. Those of us in this session have an evolutionary, ecological perspective but few have also thought about a broader health perspective to combine both disciplines. Preliminary discussions identified nutritional status and psychosocial stress as crucial to this combined perspective, and could provide a direct link to evolutionary medicine.

We first sought to define “stress” (more…)

Evolution and Mental Disorders (Workshop report)

Evolution and Mental Disorders

Report from a Workshop led by

Martin Brüne, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Bochum, Germany

Alfonso Troisi, Professor of Psychopathology, University of Rome Tor Vergata

Workshop summary by rapporteur Daniel Stein, University of Capetown

One of five workshops in a conference on
Evolution and Diseases of Modern Environments
Organized by Randolph Nesse, at the Berlin Charité,  October 13-14, 2009
In conjunction with The World Health Summit
Sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation

Participants in our group on mental disorders had a broad range of academic backgrounds, including psychiatry, psychology, medicine, evolutionary theory, genetics, epidemiology, economics, and philosophy.

The group aimed to follow a number of rules of engagement outlined at the start;  we were not merely nice about one another’s theories, nor were we simply oppositional, and we asked all to participants to contribute in roughly equal measure.

We attempted to address 6 questions: (more…)

Sanitizing the hygiene hypothesis (Workshop Report)

Sanitizing the hygiene hypothesis:
Health lessons from human co-evolution with microorganisms

Report from a Workshop led by
Kathleen Barnes, Department of Medicine,
Johns Hopkins University and
Erika von
Mutius, Professor of Pediatrics, University Children’s Hospital, Munich

One of five workshops in a conference on
Evolution and Diseases of Modern Environments
Organized by Randolph Nesse, at the Berlin Charité,  October 13-14, 2009
In conjunction with The World Health Summit
Sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation

Introduction: There is a large body of research work addressing the potential beneficial role of microbial exposures for the development of asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders. A seminal publication by David Strachan in 1989 coined the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ in an attempt to explain his observation of protection from hay fever when having many older siblings. The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ has since undergone numerous revisions and alterations with respect to potential underlying immunological mechanisms, the type of infectious / microbial stimuli and the potential link to autoimmune diseases. It has become apparent over the years that many open research questions have not been answered; therefore, we have drafted a qualitative overview on the existing evidence of a protective effect of microbial exposures for the onset of asthma, allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Evidence: The Working Group agreed there is compelling evidence from population-based studies in humans to suggest that the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ may be operative in asthma, allergies, SLE, sarcoidosis, and ankylosing spondylitis, and suggestive evidence exists for type I diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and multiple sclerosis. (more…)