701-1703-00L  Evolutionary Medicine for Infectious Diseases

SemesterAutumn Semester 2020
LecturersA. Hall
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentNumber of participants limited to 25.


AbstractThis course explores infectious disease from both the host and pathogen perspective. Through short lectures, reading and active discussion, students will identify areas where evolutionary thinking can improve our understanding of infectious diseases and, ultimately, our ability to treat them effectively.
ObjectiveStudents will learn to (i) identify evolutionary explanations for the origins and characteristics of infectious diseases in a range of organisms and (ii) evaluate ways of integrating evolutionary thinking into improved strategies for treating infections of humans and animals. This will incorporate principles that apply across any host-pathogen interaction, as well as system-specific mechanistic information, with particular emphasis on bacteria and viruses.
ContentWe will cover several topics where evolutionary thinking is relevant to understanding or treating infectious diseases. This includes: (i) determinants of pathogen host range and virulence, (ii) dynamics of host-parasite coevolution, (iii) pathogen adaptation to evade or suppress immune responses, (iv) antimicrobial resistance, (v) evolution-proof medicine. For each topic there will be a short (< 20 minutes) introductory lecture, before students independently research the primary literature and develop discussion points and questions, followed by interactive discussion in class.
LiteratureThe focus is on primary literature, but for some parts the following text books provide good background information:

Schmid Hempel 2011 Evolutionary Parasitology
Stearns & Medzhitov 2016 Evolutionary Medicine
Prerequisites / NoticeA basic understanding of evolutionary biology, microbiology or parasitology will be advantageous but is not essential.