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Evolution and Medicine

Evolution and Medicine - Free Ebook Download

Book Detail

Author/Editor(s): Robert Perlman
Publication Date: July 24, 2013
ISBN-10: 0199661723
ISBN-13: 978-0199661725
Language: English
Edition: 1
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Size: 867 KB
Format: pdf

Book Description

Evolution and Medicine provides an accessible introduction to the new field of evolutionary medicine. Evolutionary concepts help explain why we remain vulnerable to disease, how pathogens and cancer cells evolve, and how the diseases that affected our evolutionary ancestors have shaped our biology. Evolution and Medicine interweaves the presentation of evolutionary principles with examples that illustrate how an evolutionary perspective enhances our understanding of disease. The book discusses the theory of evolution by natural selection, the genetic basis of evolutionary change, evolutionary life history theory, and host-pathogen coevolution, and uses these concepts to provide new insights into diseases such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and malaria. It incorporates the latest research in rapidly developing fields such as epigenetics and the study of the human microbiome. The book ends with a discussion of the ways in which recent, culturally constructed changes in the human environment are increasing the prevalence of man-made diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and are exacerbating socioeconomic disparities in health. Just as evolutionary biology is concerned with populations and with changes in populations over time, evolutionary medicine is concerned with the health of populations. Evolution and Medicine emphasizes the role of demographic processes in evolution and disease, and stresses the importance of improving population health as a strategy for improving the health of individuals. Evolution and Medicine will appeal to all readers with a background or interest in medicine.

About the Author

Robert Perlman received an MD and a PhD (Biochemistry) from the University of Chicago and has had a career in academic medicine. He did research and taught at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Illinois at Chicago before returning to the University of Chicago. He has carried out research in a variety of fields, including the regulation of gene expression in bacteria and the biology of the sympathetic nervous system. He has been actively involved in medical education for most of his academic career and has taught courses on evolutionary medicine at the University of Chicago for over ten years.


Perlman's enthusiasm, explanatory powers and extensive background in medicine and evolutionary biology shine through. The writing is clear.

--John Easton Science Life

It is exceptionally accessible (a glossary defines some key terms) and I genuinely enjoyed reading it and believe that it will help students (of biology or medicine) understand why evolution matters for medicine, public health, and biomedical research. This book should excite some to think more about evolution and medicine.

--Daniel T. Blumstein Trends in Ecology and Evolution

This is one of the most thought provoking books I have read in a long time...a beautifully written primer - and one that also offers a bridge into why how and why the study of evolutionary biology and the genetics that underpins this may offer new insights into the health of populations.

--Selena Gray, Journal of Public Health

I would hope that it might become a simply standard reading for just about anyone interested in health care.

--Michael Ruse, the Evolution and Medicine Review

The back flap of ... Evolution & Medicine promises a text that is 'written for physicians, biomedical scientists, and both premedical and medical students.' The field needs books written for this purpose, and Perlman's book is a move in the right direction. ... I would gladly recommend this volume to new medical students and practicing physicians alike, as it will surely help them to recognize the deeper evolutionary explanations behind many human diseases.

--Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health

Perlman's book brings an important dimension to this debate, which is that the implications for the understanding of medicine are important. His chapters on aging, cancer, host-pathogen coevolution, sexually transmitted diseases, malaria, gene-culture evolution, and man-made diseases are full of insights.

--The Physiologist

The cover blurb refers to 'an anticipated expansion in seminars and in undergraduate and continuing education courses on this topic.' I agree. Physiology needs to return to its 19th-century roots in which there was no divorce between physiology and evolutionary biology.

--Denis Noble, The Pyschologist

Perlman's book brings an important dimension to this debate, which is that the implications for the understanding of medicine are important. His chapters on aging, cancer, host-pathogen coevolution, sexually transmitted diseases, malaria, gene-culture evolution, and man-made diseases are full of insights.

--The Physiologist

With this short book Perlman has possibly achieved more in showing how evolution and medicine can be brought closer to one another than many other contributions.

--Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

The well-researched and documented work includes key up-to-date papers. It makes a nice introduction to this timely topic. ... Highly recommended.


It is good to see evolutionary medicine come into its own as a discipline, and I can recommend Evolution and Medicine to those looking for an overview of the foundations of this fascinating field.

--American Journal of Human Biology

This volume should find a broad audience among evolutionary biologists, physicians, bio-medical researchers, students who plan to enter these fields, and biologically literate readers who just want to know why they get sick. I recommend it enthusiastically to them all.

--Quarterly Review of Biology

Evolution and Medicine is an excellent resource for those desiring to understand evolutionary medicine beyond the more generalized and popular writings and will be especially useful to physicians and medical students.

--Reports of the National Center for Science Education
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