Two new open access articles on the future of evolutionary medicine will be of interest to EvMedReview readers

Natterson-Horowitz, B., Aktipis, A., Fox, M., Gluckman, P. D., Low, F. M., Mace, R., Read, A., Turner, P. E., & Blumstein, D. T. (2023). The future of evolutionary medicine: Sparking innovation in biomedicine and public health. Frontiers in Science. This article by several leaders in the field provides an inspirational vision of contributions evolutionary medicine can make.

Crespi, B. J. (2023). The possible futures of evolutionary medicine. Frontiers in Science. This commentary provides a thoughtful note of caution: “I used to think that the future of evolutionary medicine was unconditionally bright. Now, however, for me (as for the immortal Yogi Berra), ‘the future ain’t what it used to be.’”

Key points from the lead article:

  • Evolutionary medicine can apply insights from evolution and ecology to spark transformational innovation in biomedicine and inform effective health policies.
  • Systematic mapping is required to identify animal model systems for disease vulnerability, resistance, and counter-resistance that could lead to novel clinical treatments.
  • Evolutionary dynamics should also guide the development of novel therapeutic approaches that target the development of treatment resistance in cancers and antimicrobial resistance.
  • Many modern human diseases result from mismatches between the ecologies in which we evolved and our modern environments, while others reflect life-history evolution – these insights have important implications for public health policies and disease-prevention efforts.
  • Effective management of the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic and future zoonotic outbreaks requires applying evolutionary theories to understand and model infection dynamics and create models of future scenarios.
  • Evolutionary principles can also be used to understand and address aspects of human behavior that impede biomedical innovation and public health (e.g., vaccine hesitancy).