Evolution Institute Projects

Evolutionary Medicine

Should medical professionals be as attuned to Darwin as they have been to Pasteur? Can aspirin and antidiarrheals block our evolved defense systems and sometimes delay recovery? Why do stress responses cause disease?

Evolutionary Medicine
Evolutionary Medicine

This event was held on May 8, 2012 at Stanford University.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES AT THE INTERSECTION OF EVOLUTION AND MEDICINE
A gathering of scientists and entrepreneurs

Watch videos from the evolutionary medicine conference.

Should medical professionals be as attuned to Darwin as they have been to Pasteur? Can aspirin and antidiarrheals block our evolved defense systems and sometimes delay recovery? Why do stress responses cause disease?

This was a one-day event to identify new opportunities in the field of evolutionary medicine by joining leaders in the field of evolutionary medicine with CEOs, venture capitalists, and social entrepreneurs.

The first tenet of the Hippocratic Oath is to do no harm. And yet that’s exactly how some of the best medicine works today—by inoculating people with a tiny dose of an actual virus, for example. Many revolutionary medical techniques are supported not by conventional medicine, but by the contrarian thinking that characterizes evolutionary medicine.

Since evolutionary theory provides a foundation for biology, which in turns underpins medicine, you might think that medicine already makes full use of evolutionary principles. Not so. Few physicians and medical researchers know the fundamentals of evolutionary biology, and even fewer have thought deeply about why natural selection has left the body so vulnerable to so many diseases.

Twenty years ago, the field of evolutionary medicine was born with a bold article titled “The Dawn of Darwinian Medicine” authored by Randolph Nesse, MD, and George C. Williams, an evolutionary biologist. But only now do we see the evolutionary perspective beginning to appear on the radar of the vast medical and health sciences communities. The opportunities for improving human health and welfare—including investment opportunities—are tremendous.

The time is ripe to connect physicians and scientists with entrepreneurs and investors. One agenda of this conference was to identify opportunities for projects that might be soon ready for further practical development. On the flip side, evolutionary theory may help to identify those ventures that are likely or unlikely to pan out. An equally important agenda was for scientists and physicians to have opportunities to learn strategies for developing new fields from those with first-hand experience.

This event was launched by the Palo Alto Institute and co-sponsored by The Evolution Institute.

To learn more about the emerging field of evolutionary medicine, visit The Evolution and Medicine Review.