Saturday, October 10, 2009

Evolutionary Medicine

A short piece in Science reviews a new book by Peter Gluckman, Alan Beedle and Mark Hanson called Principles of Evolutionary Medicine. This is a matter of wondering "what took you guys so long?" The book is a treatise on how evolutionary mechanisms affect medicine and treatments. The reviewer notes the following:
In 2009, the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, evolutionary biology is still trying to earn a place in medical education. The core competencies recommended by a recent joint committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute on the scientific knowledge required by future physicians include an understanding of evolution by natural selection (1). At an April meeting, "Evolution in Health and Medicine," sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, a panel of deans and faculty from leading medical schools around the world endorsed the incorporation of evolutionary principles in medical curricula (2). And yet one can probably count on the digits of a three-toed sloth the number of medical schools currently offering such instruction.
I have posted on a number of trends/discoveries that have a direct bearing on medicine, from ERVs here, and here, and exaptation here and here, as well as other germane topics. If these guidelines are adapted, it may force a number of current medical students to rethink their calling. Up until now, it was perfectly easy to be a medical doctor and not know beans about evolution. I go to Bible Study Fellowship with some that I am convinced are Young Earth Creationists. The problem is that, all you have to do is look at the evolutionary history of H1N1 to know that this is an issue who's time has come.

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  1. Just wanted to drop you a note to say "Thanks" for all these nice posts! You add a really interesting mix to my daily blog reading.

    BTW, I'm a friend of Mike Beidler whom you mentioned in a post the other day. His blog "The Creation of an Evolutionist" was instrumental in cementing my own transition from YEC to full Evolutionary Creationist. (Of course, the main ingredient in that cement was Denis Lamoureux's excellent book 'Evolutionary Creationism')

    Please keep up the great posts!

  2. Kind words. Thanks. Somehow, I think I missed out in not making the transition from the YEC point of view to the EC one. For some odd reason, it just never occurred to me that the earth might be 6 000 years old. I think that owes, in part, to the fact that my dad was an archaeologist, so conversations of 30 000 years this and 50 000 years that were commonplace. There is no place in that kind of world for the YEC viewpoint.