“Disease looks different from an evolutionary perspective.”
Williams and Nesse.The Dawn of Darwinian Medicine.
This course examines how evolutionary reasoning can clarify or confuse the current understanding of human health and a variety of disease conditions from cancer, to autoimmune disorders, to schizophrenia. Is disease a product of our evolutionary mismatch to the modern world? How have pathogens shaped human evolution? How are diseases maintained in the population when they are so detrimental to individual survival and reproduction? What can we learn from animal models of disease? How can we incorporate evolutionary thinking into medical practice and what are the ramifications of this? Evolutionary biologists, medical professionals, and bioethics scholars have varied and divergent views on these questions. The aim of this class will be first to assemble, and consider historically, a variety of commentators on these questions, and second to learn and assess current hypotheses that apply evolutionary principle to explain disease conditions.