March 7 2012

8:30 Tamkin Aud., RRUMC

Stephen C. Stearns
Yale University, Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major THemes in Evolutionary Medicine


Evolutionary Medicine Month at UCLA
Tamkin Auditorium (B-Level of Reagan-UCLA Medical Center)
8:30 – 9:30 A.M.

Abstract: After sketching the range of topics addressed in evolutionary medicine, I will focus in more detail on three issues. The first is the Hygiene/Old Friends Hypothesis, a surprising new insight now in clinical trial. This is about mismatches to modernity: mal-adaptation produced by time lags. It is a novel insight, it works, and it involves delightfully disgusting worms. The second considers cancer as an evolutionary process in which both the history of an individual cancer and the dynamics that lead to its malignancy can be understood using evolutionary insights. Third, I will discuss recent evidence that contemporary humans are still evolving, an issue that reveals culture as an agent exerting selection on biological traits and the importance of understanding interactions between cultural and biological evolution, in this case on the life history traits that frame our lifespan.

Biography: Dr. Stephen Stearns has been the Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University since 2000. Prior to that he was Professor of Zoology at the University of Basel, Switzerland from 1983 to 2000, and Assistant Professor of Biology at Reed College, Portland, Oregon, from 1978 to 1983. He did his undergraduate work in biology at Yale University (1967), received an M.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of British Columbia (1975). He did postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley, as a Miller Fellow (1975-1978). He founded the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) and the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (JEB, both 1987) and, with Tim Clutton-Brock, the Tropical Biology Association (TBA, 1991). He is known for his work in life history evolution (e.g. The Evolution of Life Histories, 1992, Oxford University Press) and evolutionary medicine (e.g. Evolution in Health and Disease, 2nd edition, 2008, edited with Jacob Koella). His lectures on evolution, ecology, and behavior can be viewed HERE as well as YouTube and iTunesU.

For support, we thank the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (NIH Grant #1UL1RR033176), Participant Media, and the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the UCLA Department of Medicine.

For additional information, please contact Susan Kwan,











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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