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Evolutionary medicine in medical education and research

Evolutionary medicine refers to the application of evolutionary knowledge to medicine. While evolution has traditionally been absent from medical education, we have argued that the understanding of evolutionary concepts would enrich medical practice and research, by providing historical explanations and ultimate causation of current traits and explaining the impact of ongoing environmental change, including the dramatic change of the recent centuries.

Through articles in medical journals, talks and lectures, we are engaging with the medical community to explain and promote the value of evolutionary knowledge for clinicians and medical scientists. Plans to commence teaching evolutionary medicine to students in New Zealand and Singapore are underway, and the textbook written in the Centre is the recommended reading in a number of North American postgraduate medical and biological programmes.

Key publications:

Gluckman P, Beedle A, Hanson M. Principles of evolutionary medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2009.

Nesse RM. Ten questions for evolutionary studies of disease vulnerability. Evolutionary Applications 2011; doi:10.1111/j.1752-4571.2010.00181.x. Journal website (Paid subscription)

Nesse RM, Bergstrom CT, Ellison PT, Flier JS, Gluckman PD, Govindaraju DR, Niethammer D, Omenn GS, Perlmann RL, Schwartz MD, Thomas MG, Stearns SC and D Valle. Making evolutionary biology a basic science for medicine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2010; 107 Suppl 1: 1800-1807. PubMed link