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Evolution and Medicine provides an accessible introduction to the new field of evolutionary medicine. Evolutionary concepts help explain why we remain vulnerable to disease, how pathogens and cancer cells evolve, and how the diseases that affected our evolutionary ancestors have shaped our biology. Evolution and Medicine interweaves the presentation of evolutionary principles with examples that illustrate how an evolutionary perspective enhances our understanding of disease. The book discusses the theory of evolution by natural selection, the genetic basis of evolutionary change, evolutionary life history theory, and host-pathogen coevolution, and uses these concepts to provide new insights into diseases such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and malaria. It incorporates the latest research in rapidly developing fields such as epigenetics and the study of the human microbiome. The book ends with a discussion of the ways in which recent, culturally constructed changes in the human environment are increasing the prevalence of man-made diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and are exacerbating socioeconomic disparities in health. Just as evolutionary biology is concerned with populations and with changes in populations over time, evolutionary medicine is concerned with the health of populations. Evolution and Medicine emphasizes the role of demographic processes in evolution and disease, and stresses the importance of improving population health as a strategy for improving the health of individuals. Evolution and Medicine will appeal to all readers with a background or interest in medicine.
Robert Perlman, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics and the College, University of Chicago
Robert Perlman received an MD and a PhD (Biochemistry) from the University of Chicago and has had a career in academic medicine. He did research and taught at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Illinois at Chicago before returning to the University of Chicago. He has carried out research in a variety of fields, including the regulation of gene expression in bacteria and the biology of the sympathetic nervous system. He has been actively involved in medical education for most of his academic career and has taught courses on evolutionary medicine at the University of Chicago for over ten years.