Week 1: Introduction
This overview module will introduce the core concepts of evolutionary medicine that will be explored throughout the rest of the course.
Week 1: Why do we get sick?
An introduction to sickness behaviors and the immune system through an examination of subject-specific examples such as smallpox, tuberculosis, influenza, and other infectious diseases that have impacted our evolutionary history. We will introduce the concepts that form the basis of evolutionary theory.
Week 2: Why does selection leave our bodies vulnerable?
We will continue to explore how humans have evolved defenses against disease. We consider how our species evolved in environments quite different from our modern world, and how this results in mismatches and tradeoffs in our health.
Week 3: What can our evolutionary past tell us about our health in the present?
An introduction to co-evolution between humans and pathogens, and the factors that affect pathogen virulence and transmission. We’ll examine the “Old Friends” Hypothesis, vaccination, and the cross-cutting concepts of mind and brain evolution and social complexity.
Week 4: How can evolutionary medicine be used to tackle emerging and future health crises?
We’ll examine emerging and waning health threats including infectious and chronic diseases in a global and public health context while also considering changing environments and the impact on pathogenicity. In addition, we explore the applications of an evolutionary medicine perspective to our understanding of mental health. We will explore the idea of ongoing evolution and what that means for scientific research.