Diet and Nutrition Workshop Summary Notes

Summary Notes: Diet and Nutrition Workshop

Workshop Rapporteurs: Jay T Stock (U Cambridge) Claudia R Valeggia (U Pennsylvania)

Workshop Leader: William R Leonard (Northwestern)

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

The following provides a brief summary of the discussions of the Diet and Nutrition Workshop at the Symposium “Evolution and Diseases of Modern Environments”.  Discussions were broadly based around two themes: (1) diet and nutrition in earlier human evolution, and (2) recent human evolution, dietary adaptation and the origins of “diseases of the modern world”.  A summary of these is provided below, followed by a discussion of the relevance of dietary trends in human evolution to understanding the etiology of diseases of the modern world, some general points of agreement between the participants, and proposed areas of future research.

Theme I: Diet in Earlier Human Evolution (more…)

Darwin Applies to Medical School

This week’s Science has an extensive review of the National Academy Sackler Colloquium on Evolution in Health and Medicine. Elizabeth Pennisi packs many examples into just a few paragraphs and gives a vivid sense for the excitement of the meeting and its possible future impact.  She contrasts the active participation of physicians at this meeting with their near-absence at first meeting for the field, actually organized by Steven Stearns, who also edited the foundation text in the field,  Evolution in Health and Disease, and, with Jacob Koella, a second edition, now available from Oxford University Press. Pennisi’s article does a fine job of emphasizing the importance of evolutionary biology for medicine, and also the many challenges faced by Dean’s who must cope with an already over-crowded curriculum. (more…)

Peter Ellison on the Evolution and Medicine Sackler Symposium

The National Academy of Sciences webpage has just posted an interview with Peter Ellison about the recent Sackler Symposium Evolution in Health and Medicine. Audio recordings of all the talks with slides will be available on the web after a few weeks; in the meanwhile, Ellison’s talk gives an overview of what turned out to be a remarkable meeting.  A highlight was when Jeffrey Flier, Dean of Harvard Medical School, addressed Elllison and suggested they collaborate immediately to figure out strategies for bringing more evolutionary biology into the Harvard curriculum.  Several other exchanges also revealed new enthusiasm for ensuring that doctors and medical researchers are provided with the full range of evolutionary knowledge.  The payoffs such knowledge offers were illustrated, sometimes dramatically, by many of the presentations on specific scientific topics.