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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 […]

George Floyd

I often feel that I am writing this blog for myself, but I have a platform here. The evolution medicine blog and podcast has a modest number of subscribers. With the recent murder of George Floyd, I am moved to speak. I have been inspired by the peaceful protests that […]

Why do we die of viral infections?

Researchers and opinion leaders cannot seem to make up their minds about what kills us in a variety of serious viral illnesses. Do we die because of too much, or too little, immune activation? Consider this about Ebola virus from an 2014 NPR feature: “But when you look at the […]

Virulence evolution and herd immunity

The billionaire hedge fund manager Ricky Sandler says we should disregard public health professionals and encourage people to get infected with COVID-19 so that the population can have “so called” herd immunity. He and others argue we should throw caution – and our face masks – to the wind and […]