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Evolutionary Medicine (313-0-20)


Christopher W Kuzawa
1810 Hinman Ave., Room #A63, EV Campus
Kuzawa is a biological anthropologist and epidemiologist with interests in evolutionary theory and health. He conducts fieldwork in collaboration with a large 40-year study in the Philippines, which has tracked multiple generations across their lives. Topics that his research addresses include the importance of early life adversity on adult health, the intergenerational and epigenetic determinants of health, the hormonal changes that accompany fatherhood, and the energetics and evolution of the human brain. He is Professor of Anthropology, a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research, Director of the Health Inequality Network and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Meeting Info

ANTHRO Sem Rm 104 - 1810 Hinmn: Tues, Thurs 12:30PM - 1:50PM

Overview of class

Many diseases of contemporary society, including ailments like obesity, diabetes, and depression, have only emerged as major health issues in recent human history. In addition, different human groups or ethnicities vary markedly in the burden of these conditions, with factors like poverty, inequality and discrimination consistently predicting who is most affected. What might account for these common findings? In this course we explore two related ideas to gain insights into these issues. The first is that many modern ailments may be viewed as an imbalance between modern life ways and those which shaped our biology during much of human evolution. The second is that differences in factors like inequality and discrimination, which trace to political, economic, and historical factors, help explain why some groups tend to be more affected by these conditions than others. We will begin by reviewing foundational concepts in evolutionary biology, molecular biology, anthropology and human evolution, revealing why our bodies by necessity come equipped with biology that is responsive and sensitive to the environments that we inhabit. We will then use these principles to explore domestic and global case studies that illustrate the power of evolutionary principles to shed light on why we get sick, including the role of social, economic and political factors as drivers of major disparities in disease burden.

Evaluation Method

2 exams, 3 reaction papers, group discussion leading, class participation

Class Materials (Required)

Readings provided on Canvas

Class Attributes

Social & Behavioral Sciences Distro Area