Published on 08.10.2019
Why do we get sick? A Darwinian perspective
The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is normally a harmless commensal of humans but can become an opportunistic pathogen causing
infections. This poses massive clinical and economical problems: because the bacterium can very rapidly evolve resistance to multiple antibiotics, it causes many thousands of deaths in hospitals around the world.
In an article in the La Liberté newspaper this week, Prof. Thomas Flatt from the Department of Biology, talks with journalist Pascal Fleury about Evolutionary or Darwinian Medicine.
"Se soigner avec Darwin"
What can evolutionary biology teach us about medicine? How can insights from evolution be applied to infectious and non-infectious diseases, including issues such as antibiotics resistance, cancer, allergies, diabetes, obesity, and aging? In the article Thomas Flatt and an expert from Lyon, Luc Perino, explain how evolution can shed new light on these problems. The field of evolutionary medicine also represents an attractive niche for teaching: a growing number of universities around the world now offer courses on evolutionary aspects of medicine. In Switzerland, for example, the University of Zürich organizes courses at the BSc and MSc level. Flatt thinks that evolutionary medicine might have a strong potential for developing closer collaborations between medicine and biology, both in terms of research and teaching. "Darwinian medicine allow us to understand where diseases come from evolutionarily. This approach gives us a new way of interpreting diseases which can have important practical consequences and applications".