Ev Med Month 2017

Grand Rounds – Evolutionary Medicine Series

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

natterson-horowitz Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, UCLA Division of Cardiology
Co-Director, Evolutionary Medicine Program at UCLA

“The Origins of Heart Disease: 4.3 Billion Years of Insights for Clinicians”
Like all biological traits, the vulnerability to heart disease has emerged through natural selection and other evolutionary processes over hundreds of millions of years. Indeed, the spontaneous occurrence of atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, valvular heart disease and other cardiovascular syndromes in non-human animals disrupts commonly held beliefs about the contemporary origins of heart disease.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

molly_fox Molly Fox, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Departments of Anthropology and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA

“The Grandmother Paradox: Alzheimer’s Disease and the Evolution of Human Longevity”

The crucial role of grandmothers in the human family may be the key to understanding how evolutionary forces shaped the human lifespan. However, the high rates of Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly undermine prevailing theories about family dynamics and natural selection throughout human history.

I will present the results of a case-control study investigating how women’s reproductive histories affect Alzheimer’s risk via long-term alterations in endocrine, immune, and metabolic systems. I will also present the results of an epidemiological study investigating how environmental pathogen diversity is associated with global variation in age-adjusted Alzheimer’s rates via alterations in individuals’ immunological development.

The ultimate aim of my Alzheimer’s research is to use modern information to reconstruct what disease risk might have been in pre-modern human environments, in order to explore elderly women’s cognitive competence and evaluate the evolutionary dynamics that led to natural selection for human longevity.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

audeh William Audeh, M.D.
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Chief Medical Officer, Agendia, Inc.

“Applying Evolutionary Biology to Cancer Medicine”
Principles of Evolutionary Biology have been applied to the problem of cancer, primarily to explain why cancer develops. This approach has focused on intrinsic mutation rates and the stochastic risk of carcinogenesis, as well as the issue of “mismatch”, in which the argument is made that cancer arises because the human genome is mismatched and maladapted to the modern environment. What has been lacking until recently, however, is the practical application of evolutionary biology to guide the therapy of cancer in a clinically meaningful way. Cancer is understood and managed by clinicians as a clinical disease, rather than what evolutionary biology more correctly identifies it to be: a diverse population of cells undergoing active micro-evolution, adapting in response to the selective pressures of therapy and the tissue micro-environment, like an invasive species. The explosion of genomic information about cancer now allows a different, biologically-enlightened strategy to guide cancer therapy, based upon recognized principles of evolutionary biology and population genetics.