Public Release: 

North Carolina researchers unveil a new center for evolutionary medicine

The Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM) will support collaborative ventures between scientists, physicians, and other health-related experts

National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

DURHAM, N.C. - A new research center aims to connect scientists, physicians, health policy experts, and veterinarians in the burgeoning field of evolutionary medicine. The Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine, or TriCEM, will make its debut this Sunday at the Washington Duke Inn.

The announcement comes as part of a ten-year anniversary celebration and symposium for a similar institute, the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), which has spearheaded the effort to create TriCEM.

"We are incredibly excited to see the enthusiasm for evolutionary approaches to human and animal health in the Triangle and to see TriCEM take shape," says Charles Nunn, a professor of evolutionary anthropology and global health at Duke University, who will serve as the director. "TriCEM will build on the success of NESCent in stimulating cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in evolutionary biology. At the NESCent Celebration, we will announce our first research and educational efforts and prepare the community for exciting opportunities in the future."

NESCent will close in June 2015 after supporting thousands of researchers, graduate students, working groups, and other projects. After ten years of funding from the National Science Foundation, NESCent leaders wanted to create a new center that would foster collaborations between scientists, physicians, health policy experts, and veterinarians within the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle area.

"The concentration of research and education in evolutionary biology, human and veterinary medicine, infectious diseases, and agriculture in the Triangle is a tremendous resource," says Allen Rodrigo, director of NESCent. "If we want to build bridges between these disciplines, I can think of no better place to do it."

Capitalizing on the area's wealth of science and health resources, TriCEM seeks potential partnerships with resident universities including Duke, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina Central University.

NESCent and TriCEM have already issued a joint call for proposals for Catalysis Meetings and Graduate Fellowships focusing on evolutionary medicine. NESCent will also make an announcement regarding a Catalysis Meeting between TriCEM and the Tropical Conservation Initiative at Duke.

"We have a number of exciting opportunities to explore the links between conservation, biodiversity and human health, and other initiatives aimed at bringing together experts in medicine and veterinary sciences, including through collaboration with the NC State's Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research (CCMTR)," Nunn says.

Former NESCent participants from all around the country will discuss their research Saturday, while Sunday paves the way for TriCEM's first public appearance. In addition to its advisory board members and featured speakers, the event welcomes the resident NESCent community and prospective TriCEM participants from Triangle universities and research centers.

"What has NESCent tried to do? We've tried to provide scientists with opportunities to do really interesting science that crosses disciplinary boundaries," Rodrigo says. "TriCEM continues this mission, and we cannot think of a better way of keeping NESCent alive, in spirit if not in body!"

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