April 19-23, 2022
Erice, Sicily, ITALY

Workshop Organizers

Conference goals

Purpose of the Workshop

Conference goals

The purpose of this interdisciplinary course is to understand why and how the evolutionary perspective is relevant for medicine, both in terms of research and practice (i.e. why we need “Evolutionary Medicine”). Although there is controversy about to what extent modern human populations have deviated – genetically and behaviorally – from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, growing evidence suggests that humans have continued and still continue to evolve. However, when clinicians are asked about the relevance of evolutionary theory in their disciplines, many express interest but find the approach more or less irrelevant for everyday practice. This is a profound misconception of what evolution may tell about disease development and counter-strategies. The misconception, in part, resides in the belief that human evolution has been slow and that anatomical and physiological characteristics of our species (i.e. our bauplan) have changed very little in the last 80,000 years or so. A more detailed look, however, reveals that changing ecological contingencies have turned into risk factors for somatic disease and psychological disorders. For example, adaptations to the past environments including nutritional requirements, exposure to pathogens, social issues etc. have now turned into “epidemics” of autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, several forms of cancer, depression, anxiety and other psychiatric conditions. Taken together, we believe that the understanding of evolutionary processes in medicine is not just an academic exercise, but imperative to better understand, diagnose, prevent, and treat medical conditions

Speakers & Topics

Caroline Blanchard

Sexual selection and sex differences in disease vulnerability

Richard G. Bribiescas

Evolutionary and life history perspectives on health and aging in men

Martin Brüne

Maladaptive consequences of early childhood adversity

James De Gregori

Aging, somatic evolution and cancer – the inexorable link

Gerhard Medicus

Theory of medical psychology and psychotherapy

Mark A. Hill

University of New South Wales (Australia)

Philipp Mitteroecker

The evolution of human childbirth and obstructed labor

Alessia Nava

Modelling the evolution of the mother-infant dyad in ancient human populations

Paola Palanza

The influence of human evolution on health and disease

Paola Romagnani

The kidney between adaptation and injury across evolution

Graham A. W. Rook

A Darwinian reformulation of the "Hygiene Hypothesis"

Frank Rühli

Evolutionary Medicine: contributions to present and future global challenges

Alfonso Troisi

Evolutionary Psychiatry and the search for brain lesions: Why the Holy Grail is just wishful thinking

Daniel R. Wilson

Darwin in Medicine: Medicine in Darwin

Fabio Zampieri

Darwin’s impact on medical sciences