Courses

Courses

If you want to learn more, there are a number of evolutionary medicine-relatedcourses taught on the UCLA campus. And other courses (e.g., the Ecology and Evolutionary Biologyintroduction to Ecology and Behavior) include lectures on evolutionary medicine. If you know of othercourses, we’ll post them here.

In addition to these courses, the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology now offers a minor inEvolutionary Medicine, click here for more info.

We’re excited about the upper division course called Evolutionary Medicine that Pamela Yeh willdevelop in the coming years. Below we list faculty currently teaching evolutionary medicine-themedcourses.

Clark Barrett

Anthropology 124B: EvolutionaryPsychology: Survey of research in evolutionary psychology. Review of relevant theory in evolution andgenetics. Emphasis on empirical studies of modern human behavior from evolutionary perspective, includingsocial behavior, decision making, language, culture, and child development.

Aaron Blaisdell

Fiat Lux Psych 19: HumanEvolution and Human Health: A Practicum Human health in western society has deteriorated at thepopulation level. An increasing proportion of the population is plagued by so-called diseases ofcivilization, such as obesity, diabetes, mental illness, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. These diseasesare extremely rare in human populations living a wide range of ancestral lifestyles, such ashunter-gatherers. Discussion will focus on the relationship between lifestyle and human health in thecontext of human evolution. We will evaluate hypothesis testing at the individual and population level todissect these relationships and discuss the role such analysis plays in improved healthoutcomes.

Daniel Fessler

Anthropology 124P: The Evolutionof Human Sexual Behavior Sexuality is a ubiquitous theme across time and across cultures. Although thereis considerable variation in sexual behavior around the world, such variation is built upon a panhumansexual nature. Our sexual nature might be said to be one of the most important factors determining ourexperience of ourselves, and the structures of our societies. Darwinian theory provides a powerful meansof understanding the origins and nature of human sexuality. In this course we will explore some of themany ways in which evolution has shaped our sexual bodies and our sexual minds.

Martie Haselton

GE Cluster 72A,B,CW Sex: FromBiology to Gendered Society From the moment of our conception, each of us has a sex. Our individual sexhas a major role in determining the physical attributes of our bodies, the structure of our brains, ourbehavioral tendencies, the environment in which we grow up, the laws that govern our behavior, our placein society, the attitudes of others towards us, and our self-concept. Although sex may be considered tobe determined primarily biologically, it is our gender (e.g., the social implications of our sex) that isarguably most important for our lives. Sex and gender can only be understood from a mixture of differentperspectives. In this course we investigate some of those perspectives from the disciplines of sociology,biology, psychology, genetics and medicine.

Barbara Natterson-Horowitz

Zoobiquity:Comparative Medicine-SL 619. Medical students will be exposed to cardiovascular diseases across theanimal kingdom. Instruction in echocardiography, electrocardiography, auscultation and other diagnostictechniques will emphasize the benefits of the comparative method. Source material from both the human andveterinary medical literature will be reviewed. The comparative approach featured in this course willalso provide students with an opportunity to better understand the connections between contemporarycardiovascular disease and evolutionary biology.

Peter Nonacs

Fiat Lux Ecology and EvolutionaryBiology 19: Evolutionary Medicine: How Natural Selection Helps Us Understand Why We Get Sick Why do wegrow old and die? Why do our own cells sometimes become cancers that grow wildly until they kill us andthemselves? Why are plant poisons designed to kill insects such as caffeine, nicotine and chocolate someof our favorite substances to eat? Why are new and deadly diseases appearing in our hospitals? Questions like these have long puzzled medical science. An exciting new approach to these “why”questions involves the application of evolutionary principles. In this course we will look at disease,illness and human behavior not as constant phenomena, but as having evolved and continuing to evolvethrough Natural Selection. Evolution is the fundamental concept that unifies all of modern biology and,perhaps very soon, modern medicine as well.

Van Savage

BIOMATH 202: The Function,Structure, and Evolution of Biological Systems Website: http://www.biomath.ucla.edu/vsavage/LecturesAndHomeworks202.html Description: This course serves asan introduction to mathematical modeling for biologists. The courses uses evolutionary theory and networktheory as its basis, and applies these concepts to topics and recent papers that include antibioticresistance, cancer initiation and growth, SIR models, cell motility, food web structure and dynamics,neural networks, and network motifs for genes and proteins. The class progresses by my lecturing ongeneral theoretical methods (e.g., differential equations, network models) and then providing andlecturing about three or four papers published in the past decade in top-tier journals that applied thesemethods to biomedical and biological systems. This approach helps students translate what they arelearning into cutting edge research and how assumptions can be changed to make these methods broadlyapplicable.

BIOMATH 213: Modeling Vascular Networks with Applications Website: http://www.biomath.ucla.edu/vsavage/LecturesAndHomeworks213.html In this course, I focus on the structure and dynamics ofvascular systems. I combine topics usually taught separately in courses, including the fractal geometryof branching networks, the fluid mechanics of blood flow in animals and water flow in plants, and othermodeling techniques such as analogue circuits to describe fluid-flow networks. In this course I teachcrucial biological knowledge about the transport of resources and how evolutionary pressure to make thistransport sufficient and efficient has constrained the structure of the vascular network. The structureand flow of the vascular network fuels maintenance, growth, and reproduction, including how each of theserelate to pathologies such as coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, and tumor vasculature andangiogenesis.

Gary Schiller

Hematology section of Block 6of the Medical School curriculum. We discuss normal hematopoietic ontogeny and it malignantcounterparts.

Pamela Yeh

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 185: Evolutionary Medicine. This classcovers the main topics in Evolution (including natural and sexual selection, genetic drift, gene flow andmigration, mutations, adaptation, introduction to phylogenetics and population genetics) while focusingon examples from medicine, including antibiotic resistance, cancer, HIV, obesity, diabetes, aging, andother health issues. This class will also focus on similarities and evolutionary origins of healthissues faced by a range of species.