Coevolutionary Medicine?

ResearchBlogging.orgI’ll admit it. Coevolution turns me on. It gets me up in the morning, is usually the last thing I think about before passing out at night and I’ve made more of a commitment to coevolution than any man I’ve ever been with. I’ve been an evolutionary biologist for the majority of my adult life, I’m working on my third degree in this field and I still scratch my head at people who get their rocks off on just studying one species. Coevolution is fast, it’s dynamic and let’s face it, it’s sexy.

But more than any of the above, coevolution has direct importance in the emerging field of evolutionary medicine. Evolutionary medicine has seen a resurgence in the last few years as some evolutionary biologists have realized that evolution is barely taught in medical school and therefore many doctors are unaware of practices that could be lifesaving, and important to the general population for which they care. With the resurgence has come a number of excellent reviews commenting on the importance of medical research understanding evolutionary principles such as drift, selection and mutation. Here I’d like to touch on just one of the excellent reviews I’ve read recently, a book chapter [PDF] by Michael Antolin from Colorado State University.

Prairie dog

Adorable exotic disease vector

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Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.

Theodosius Dobzhansky

Nothing in Biology Makes Sense is an experiment in collaborative online science communication. Our contributors include working biologists at all career stages, studying organisms from viruses to birds, and in contexts from human medicine to tropical forests. Here, we’ll write about science that catches our interest, and try to explain why we think it’s cool, or why we think it’s crazy. With any luck, we’ll learn from each other in the process. Join us in the comments and on our Facebook page, as we make sense of the living world together.