Week1 LECTURE1 Nesse 2010 (1) - Making evolutionary biology...

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Making evolutionary biology a basic science for medicine Randolph M. Nesse a,1 , Carl T. Bergstrom b , Peter T. Ellison c , Jeffrey S. Flier d , Peter Gluckman e , Diddahally R. Govindaraju f , Dietrich Niethammer g , Gilbert S. Omenn h , Robert L. Perlman i , Mark D. Schwartz j , Mark G. Thomas k , Stephen C. Stearns l , and David Valle m a Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Michigan, Room 3018, East Hall, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104; b Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-1800; c Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138; d Of ce of the Dean, Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA 02115; e Centre for Human Evolution, Adaptation, and Disease Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand; f Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, 72 East Concord Street, Boston, MA 02118; g Department of Hematology, Children's University Hospital, 72076 Tübingen, Germany; h Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics and Departments of Internal Medicine, Human Genetics, and Public Health, University of Michigan, Room 2017F, Palmer Commons, 100 Washtenaw Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; i Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637; j Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine and VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, 423 East 23rd Street, Suite 15N, New York, NY 10010; k Research Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom; l Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, P.O. Box 208106, 165 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06520-8106; and m McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 519 BRB, 733 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205 Edited by Daniel L. Hartl, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved September 29, 2009 (received for review August 2, 2009) New applications of evolutionary biology in medicine are being discovered at an accelerating rate, but few physicians have suf - cient educational background to use them fully. This article sum- marizes suggestions from several groups that have considered how evolutionary biology can be useful in medicine, what physi- cians should learn about it, and when and how they should learn it. Our general conclusion is that evolutionary biology is a crucial basic science for medicine. In addition to looking at established evolutionary methods and topics, such as population genetics and pathogen evolution, we highlight questions about why natural selection leaves bodies vulnerable to disease. Knowledge about evolution provides physicians with an integrative framework that links otherwise disparate bits of knowledge. It replaces the prev- alent view of bodies as machines with a biological view of bodies shaped by evolutionary processes. Like other basic sciences, evo- lutionary biology needs to be taught both before and during medical school. Most introductory biology courses are insuf
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