Evolution and Medicine

Course Code: 
BIOL 3559
Karen Barnard-Kubow

Why do we get sick? Why are some treatments less effective than others? In this course evolutionary concepts will be applied to medicine to gain insight into why we are susceptible to disease and how we may be able to develop better therapies. We will investigate how our evolutionary past has led to trade-offs in our physiology that provide many benefits, but also increase our susceptibility to disease. We will also discuss pathogen evolution and the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Are there ways to produce more effective anti-microbial therapies? We will learn how evolution is revolutionizing the way we think about cancer and changing our understanding of metastasis and chemotherapy. We will also explore how the rapid pace of cultural change has led to a mismatch between our human environment and our biology, and how this may be contributing to a suite of disease and health issues. Ultimately, the goal of this course is give you new insights into medicine, and to get you asking the question of how evolutionary concepts can help guide new approaches and treatments for disease.