Evolution and Medicine

Author: Perlman, Robert


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  • ISBN: 9780199661718
  • Author: Perlman, Robert
  • Publ Date: 2013-05-30
  • Edition:
  • Pages: 176
  • Imprint: OUP *#
  • Status: ACT
  • ID - 194261

Table of Contents :

1. Evolution and medicine ; 2. Human demography, history, and disease ; 3. Evolutionary genetics ; 4. Cystic fibrosis ; 5. Life history trade-offs and the evolutionary biology of aging ; 6. Cancer ; 7. Host-pathogen coevolution ; 8. Sexually transmitted diseases ; 9. Malaria ; 10. Gene-culture coevolution: lactase persistence ; 11. Man-made diseases


Evolution and Medicine provides an accessible introduction to the new field of evolutionary medicine. Evolutionary concepts help explain why we remain vulnerable to disease, how pathogens and cancer cells evolve, and how the diseases that affected our evolutionary ancestors have shaped our biology. The book interweaves the presentation of evolutionary principles with examples that illustrate how an evolutionary perspective enhances our understanding of disease. It discusses the theory of evolution by natural selection, the genetic basis of evolutionary change, evolutionary life history theory, and host-pathogen coevolution, and uses these concepts to provide new insights into diseases such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and malaria, incorporating the latest research in rapidly developing fields such as epigenetics and the study of the human microbiome. The book concludes with a discussion of the ways in which recent, culturally constructed changes in the human environment are increasing the prevalence of man-made diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and are exacerbating socioeconomic disparities in health. Just as evolutionary biology is concerned with populations and with changes in populations over time, evolutionary medicine is concerned with the health of populations. Evolution and Medicine emphasizes the role of demographic processes in evolution and disease, and stresses the importance of improving population health as a strategy for improving the health of individuals. This accessible text is written primarily for physicians, biomedical scientists, and both premedical and medical students, and will appeal to all readers with a background or interest in medicine.


This is one of the most thought provoking books I have read in a long time. It aimsand succeedsin providing an easily accessible link between the disciplines of evolutionary biology and medicine. Journal of Public Health I would hope that it might become simply standard reading for just about anyone interested in health care. Michael Ruse, the Evolution and Medicine Review Perlman outlines his view of evolutionary medicine in a crisply written, 11-chapter primer. It is exceptionally accessible ... and I genuinely enjoyed reading it and believe that it will help students ... understand why evolution matters for medicine, public health, and biomedical research. Daniel T. Blumstein, Trends in Ecology & Evolution The book is written in a concise manner and the prose is clear, with minimal associated jargon. I would gladly recommend this volume to new medical students and practicing physicians alike, as it will surely help them to recognize the deeper evolutionary explanations behind many human diseases. Daniel Promislow. Evolution, Medicine and Public Health. [in this] lovely and highly welcome book Perlman brings an important dimension to this debate, which is that the implications for the understanding of medicine are important. His chapters on aging, cancer, host-pathogen coevolution, sexually transmitted diseases, malaria, gene-culture evolution, and man-made diseases are full of insights. Denis Noble, The Physiologist, Robert L. Perlman's Evolution and Medicine [..] offers a series of examples that beautifully illustrates the relevance of evolutionary thinking in medicine. Pierre-Olivier Methot, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Author Biography:

Robert Perlman, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics and the College, University of Chicago Robert Perlman received an MD and a PhD (Biochemistry) from the University of Chicago and has had a career in academic medicine. He did research and taught at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Illinois at Chicago before returning to the University of Chicago. He has carried out research in a variety of fields, including the regulation of gene expression in bacteria and the biology of the sympathetic nervous system. He has been actively involved in medical education for most of his academic career and has taught courses on evolutionary medicine at the University of Chicago for over ten years.


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