, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 644-647
Date: 02 Dec 2011

Evolutionary Medicine: A Key to Introducing Evolution

Abstract

Science teachers can use examples and concepts from evolutionary medicine to teach the three concepts central to evolution: common descent, the processes or mechanisms of evolution, and the patterns produced by descent with modification. To integrate medicine into common ancestry, consider how the evolutionary past of our (or any) species affects disease susceptibility. That humans are bipedal has produced substantial changes in our musculoskeletal system, as well as causing problems for childbirth. Mechanisms such as natural selection are well exemplified in evolutionary medicine, as both disease-causing organism and their targets adapt to one another. Teachers often use examples such as antibiotic resistance to teach natural selection: it takes little alteration of the lesson plan to make explicit that evolution is key to understanding the principles involved. Finally, the pattern of evolution can be illustrated through evolutionary medicine because organisms sharing closer ancestry also share greater susceptibility to the same disease-causing organisms. Teaching evolution using examples from evolutionary medicine can make evolution more interesting and relevant to students, and quite probably, more acceptable as a valid science.