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Evolutionary Medicine – Pandemic Edition – course outline

UNM School of Medicine students and others will be exploring themes of evolutionary medicine as it applies to the current pandemic over the next few weeks.


image credit to Kate Rusk PhD

The main theme of the 2020 Ev Med course: Using the pandemic as a lens to understand the theory and practical applications of evolutionary medicine.

This elective will attempt to use evolutionary medicine concepts to answer a series of questions about the pandemic. No question is off-limits.

Week 1. Tree Thinking and Tradeoffs. How does the idea of common descent help us track diseases? How do evolved tradeoffs affect disease vulnerability and pathogen virulence?

Week 2. Host Pathogen Arms Races. Considering the role of host defenses and viral manipulation of those defenses in COVID-19. How does modern medicine play into this?

Week 3. Antibiotic Resistance Evolution and Co-evolution of hosts and microbiomes. How does the three-way dance between hosts, viruses, and the microbiome affect treatments?

Week 4. The future: Vaccines and the end of the pandemic. How does human variation and human evolution affect the end game and the future of medicine?

Categories: Uncategorized

Joe Alcock

Emergency Physician, Educator, Researcher, interested in the microbiome, evolution, and medicine

2 replies

  1. Dr. Alcock,

    It looks like you have a great course for this spring; I look forward to virtually attending.

    Because of your wisdom and vision, I implemented an evolutionary approach to my animal nutrition business a couple of years ago and it has been even more successful than I first anticipated.


    Fred Madsen, PhD Madsen Nutrition Services, Inc. Adding the Wonders of Plants to Balance the Animal World


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