More on evolution + medicine

Yesterday’s Science had a letter to the editor regarding an editorial I mentioned previously (and that was touched on in the comments here as well):

Medicine might benefit most from embracing evolution theory’s recognition of individual variation within populations of organisms, a property that Ernst Mayr has called “the cornerstone of Darwin’s theory of natural selection”. This “population thinking,” as Mayr calls it, helped to undo typological thinking in biology, and it can help to dismantle typological notions of disease by highlighting individual differences in disease susceptibility and expression, as well as variations in response to treatment.

The inextricable relationship between evolution and genetics is evident in current genomic-based efforts such as the HapMap project, which catalogs DNA variants associated with disease, and in the recently announced Genes and Environment Initiative at NIH, which will investigate the interaction of genetic and environmental variations in common diseases. A major challenge for medical education is to incorporate genetics and evolution into education systems where neither receives the attention necessary to make it a routine part of medical thinking or clinical practice.

Comments

  1. #1 razib
    May 20, 2006

    i think this is especially relevant for racial minorities. many white doctors simply project the biological norms of white people as expectation and so determine pathology from that set point. in my own family it has caused problems because several doctors have had a hard time understanding that ‘short’ can be a relative perception and that those of my own ethnic group have a low bound of normal shortness which just isn’t normally seen among northern europeans. this caused an issue beacuse one doctor reported my parents for abuse because of the small size of my sister,he was convinced that they weres starving her since she had no hormonal abnormality (she is within the normal range of females in my family though she is rather small).

  2. #2 Dr. M.Grant
    May 27, 2006

    In the field of medicine, creationists are often considered by medical doctors as hopelessly behind the times. Endlessly we hear the same old rhetoric: “Evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology. As a practicing physician, I have had to examine these claims about the importance of evolutionary thought in my daily interaction with patients. I have also sought the input of many colleagues as to whether or not any evolutionary input is needed for them to adequately serve society in their capacity as physicians. Regardless of any individual’s particular religious persuasion (many of my colleagues are avowed atheists or theistic evolutionists who mock me for my young-earth creationist stance), not one example could be put forth of the need for evolution (or belief in its tenets) in order to practice modern medicine. I have done a lot of researches for my dissertation ,but your article give me some more ideas for my next project. Would recommend to my friends and colleagues to read Thank you