Description: In this course, we examine human health from an evolutionary perspective, exploring the impact that our evolutionary heritage has on modern human diseases, both chronic and infectious. We will learn how the framework of evolutionary biology and modern genetic tools can inform our understanding of issues relevant to clinical and public health. Rather than focus on the immediate mechanisms underlying disease, we will endeavor to understand the ultimate factors that influence susceptibility, such as past natural selection. The course topics are wide-ranging, but particular attention is paid to emerging infectious diseases, as well as non-communicable diseases that may be exacerbated by facets of modern lifestyles.
Through lectures, critical analysis of the primary literature and popular science news, and class discussions, students will learn how evolutionary principles can be practically applied to medicine. Key readings each session will focus on genetic techniques for understanding evolutionary medicine, while additional readings will incorporate perspectives from diverse fields.
By fully participating in this course, students will be able to:
appreciate how modern susceptibility to non-communicable and infectious diseases has been influenced by past evolutionary processes;
critically evaluate evolutionary hypotheses related to health and medicine, including those found in popular science articles; and
know how genetic techniques are applied within an evolutionary framework to understand ultimate reasons for disease.
Prerequisites: Statistics either (01:960:401 or 01:960:212) and Genetics (01:447:380) or Genetic Analysis I (01:447:384)
Required textbook: None. Required and supplemental readings will be posted to course website.