January 6 2016

12:00 LSB 2320

Carl Bergstrom
Dept of Biology, University of Washington

Anthropogenic evolution, externalities, and public health Anthropogenic evolution, externalities, and public health


Humans today have a major impact on the evolution of species ranging from pathogenic bacteria to charismatic megafauna. In some cases, such as conservation efforts, humans deliberately influence the evolutionary process to bring about desired ends. In other cases, such as the overuse of antibiotics, undesirable evolutionary consequences result as a side-effect of other activities. One common element of these cases is that the consequences of anthropogenic evolution are rarely fully encompassed by existing economic markets. In other words, anthropogenic evolution can generate both positive and negative externalities, which can be managed by legislation, taxation, torts, and property rights much like other externalities such as public works or pollution. After briefly summarizing some of these mechanisms, I will show how a public choice framework from economics can be adapted to think about the positive and negative externalities generated by the public health measures. Activities such as vaccination and antibiotic use can influence both the trajectory of a disease outbreak and the evolution of the pathogen in question, and we can adapt the economic theory of public finance to account for the externalities generated thusly. In the final part of the talk, I consider how antimicrobial use influences the evolution of antimicrobial resistance for epidemic diseases rather than for the typical endemic settings in which this problem is studied. To do so, I will use mathematical models to predict how the timing of antiviral use influences resistance evolution and drug efficacy in seasonal influenza and other epidemically spreading diseases.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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