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Drug design using evolutionary first principles

Updated! The promise and power of science is that it produces results better than superstition, anecdote, and intuition. Vaccines, antibiotics, and insulin are powerful examples of those results. However, success can sometimes lead to the phenomenon of overshoot. Overshoot is when treatments miss the mark, and cause more harm than […]

Less is more monitoring?

In my specialty of emergency medicine, it seems we have an insatiable need for information about our patients. Many of our patients are speedily attached to the EKG machine, placed on continuous cardiac monitoring, pulse oximetry, and then phlebotomy – the routine bloodletting we do in the service of laboratory […]

We evolved to be flexible

Medicine is conservative,  favoring stability over change. We breathe a sigh of relief when a patient’s vital signs are stable. We worry about labile (changing) emotions, mood, or blood pressure. We have an inordinate fondness for homeostasis; we grow concerned when we detect outliers or departures from “normal” homeostasis. However, […]

Constrained energy model

Herman Pontzer and colleagues published a landmark study of energy expenditure in people from a very physically active hunter-gatherer group, the Hadza of Tanzania. These important findings have been central to how I think about diet and obesity. Here is what they found: Hadza hunter gatherers spend about the same […]

Fighting over interferon

Interferon is an innate immune molecule with an important antiviral function that provides a first line of defense against infection. Interferons are found across the tree of life, existing in all tetrapods and most fishes. It is thought that interferon evolved first in jawed fishes, about 400 million years ago. […]

ZAMM 2020

This week the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Medicine biannual conference is taking place online. This wildly multidisciplinary conference uses a zombie lens to explore topics in medicine, social science, art and popular culture. I am Dr. Zed this week, broadcasting the apocalypse every day on a variety of streaming platforms. Check […]

Will COVID-19 evolve lower virulence?

Athena Aktipis and I wrote a piece about this in Here is an excerpt: Viruses walk a fine line between severity and transmissibility. If they are too virulent, they kill or incapacitate their hosts; this limits their ability to infect new hosts. Conversely, viruses that cause little harm may […]