Public Release: 

ASU hosts inaugural International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health Meeting

Arizona State University

Arizona State University will host a premiere opportunity to engage and mingle with luminaries in the burgeoning field of evolutionary medicine, a new interdisciplinary approach that is becoming an essential perspective in our view of disease, today's medical practice and the worldwide impact on public health as it hosts the Inaugural International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health Meeting, March 19-21, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona.

"This is the inaugural meeting for a brand new scientific society," said Randolph Nesse, M.D., who directs the new Center for Evolution & Medicine at ASU, and is serving as the meeting co-sponsor and organizer. "Worldwide, the scientific community is excited to come together and meet for the very first time, as the field of evolutionary medicine is growing exponentially. We have almost 300 people already registered, and hope others will join us to explore some of the most probing and pertinent discussions of major societal issues at the nexus of evolution, medicine and public health.

Topics addressed will include:

  • Can an evolutionary approach prevent antibiotic resistance?
  • Does taking every pill in the bottle really reduce resistance?
  • How can signal detection theory guide decisions about when to block symptoms such as pain, fever, and inflammation?
  • Do cells in a malignancy cooperate?
  • Can lower doses of cancer chemotherapy lead to better outcomes?
  • Did seals bring TB to the Americas?
  • Did Egyptian royalty have heart attacks?
  • Do gut bacteria manipulate food preferences to their own advantage?
  • Is beta-amyloid, the culprit behind Alzheimer's, an antimicrobial?
  • What accounts for the exponential increase in autoimmune disorders?
  • What strategies can best control emerging infections like Ebola?
  • What accounts for the problems of impacted wisdom teeth?
  • How can evolutionary veterinary medicine improve human health?
  • Is low mood ever useful?
  • Why do genes for schizophrenia persist?
  • What are the costs and benefits of a Paleo diet?
  • How and why do experiences in-utero influence adult metabolism?
  • How can we help medical school deans to recognize their responsibility to teach evolutionary biology the same way they teach other basic sciences?

This meeting will bring together scientists, scholars, teachers, clinicians, and students in the evolution and medicine community to share ideas and create new connections that will advance the field. Students and clinicians with an interest in the field are welcome to attend.

The overall meeting program includes:

Wednesday, March 18, Noon-5 PM, is a pre-meeting for the first gathering of all current Directors of Evolutionary Medicine Programs, Centers, and Institutes, and those who are considering organizing such units. The event, organized by Randolph Nesse, Gillian Bentley, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Daniel Blumstein and Frank Rühli, will provide an informal opportunity to share strategies and resources and coordinate efforts.

The format for the Thursday-Saturday meeting will include a mix of invited speakers, shorter presentations organized into topical areas, and poster sessions.

Thursday, March 19 will be held in the ASU Memorial Union. The presentations will be followed by a reception, a poster session, and entertainment. Thursday's events are free and open to the public with reservation at

Friday and Saturday will be at the scenic Tempe Mission Palms Hotel. Friday's and Saturday's sessions are reserved for registered conference participants.

There will also be a special performance by the only National Science Foundation, peer-reviewed recording artist, performer Baba Brinkman. He will present the world premiere of his "Rap Guide to Evolutionary Medicine."

Plenary speakers include:

Harvey Fineberg M.D, Ph.D
President, Gordon and Bette Moore Foundation
Past President, Institute of Medicine, District of Columbia
Title of Talk: TBD

Barbara Natterson - Horowitz, M.D
Professor, Division of Cardiology
University of California- Los Angeles
Title of Talk: Phylogeny for Physicians: How 200 Million Years of Breast Cancer, Heart Failure, and Compulsive Disorders Can Transform Human Medicine

Sir Peter Gluckman
University Distinguished Professor and Head, Centre for Human Evolution, Adaptation and Disease
University of Auckland- New Zealand
Title of Talk: Evolution and Development: From Theory and Controversy to Public Policy

Ann Demogines, Ph.D., (Omenn Award Winner)
BioFire Diagnostics
Scientist, Regulated Products
Title of Talk: Exploring Receptor-Binding as a Viral Host Range Barrier

Stephen C. Stearns Ph.D
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Yale University
Title of Talk: What is a Patient?

Ruslan Medzhitov Ph.D
David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology
Yale University
Title of Talk: What is a disease?

More than 72 oral presentations and 60 poster presentations have been scheduled to date.

The inaugural meeting and the Society are sponsored by The Foundation for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health. The Foundation also sponsors Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health an Oxford University Press journal edited by Stephen Stearns , and The Evolution & Medicine Review, edited by Randolph Nesse. The Center for Evolution & Medicine at Arizona State University is the meeting co-sponsor. Charlie Nunn (Duke University) chairs the Program Committee. Other committee members include Cynthia Beall (Case Western Reserve University) and Randolph Nesse, Arizona State University.

The Tempe Mission Palms Resort and Conference Hotel will serve as the meeting site, and have a limited number of rooms at unseasonably low rates available.


For general information, accommodations for hotel, travel and registration for the event, go to:

In addition, for journalists interested in covering the event or exploring story angles focused on evolutionary medicine, there will be a select number of fellowships offered to help pay for travel expenses. For more information on press credentialing, registration and travel fellowships, please email

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