Shining Evolutionary Light on Global Health Challenges (2014-2015)

Understanding evolution is vital to tackling the world’s most urgent health challenges, including the spread of new and reemerging pathogens and antibiotic resistant microbes, increases in autoimmune diseases, obesity and cancer. This project team focused on mismatch, a concept that is central to the emerging field of evolutionary medicine. Current lifestyles often differ from the lifestyles in which humans evolved, and this discordance, or mismatch, has consequences for human health.  

The Shining Evolutionary Light on Global Health Challenges team investigated the concept of mismatch with analyses of infectious and noninfectious diseases at a global scale using informatics approaches and a laboratory-based study of human physiology and mechanics. For the other component of this project, team members collected new data  for one month in Madagascar, where transitions in diet and behavior are leading to an increase in chronic Western diseases and musculoskeletal injuries and pathologies. Madagascar is becoming increasingly important in the study of mismatch because the epidemiological transition is rapidly occurring amidst a continuing backdrop of severe infectious diseases.

This project team laid the foundation for the new Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM). They also created a community of twenty-five people whose interests intersected at the interface of evolution and medicine. Because of the generated interest and research, the team helped to morph the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center into TriCEM.  

Timing

Spring 2015 – Summer 2015

Team Outcomes

Segmented Sleep in a Nonelectric, Small-scale Agricultural Society in Madagascar (David Samson, Melissa Manus, Andrew Krystal, Efe Fakir, James Yu and Charles Nunn. 2017. American Journal of Human Biology)

Shining Evolutionary Light on Human Sleep and Sleep Disorders (Charles L. Nunn, David R. Samson, Andrew D. Krystal. 2016. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health 1:227-243)

Inter-species Microbial Sharing in Rural Madagascar: A Study of Environmental Influences on the Skin Microbiome (poster by Melissa Manus, James Yu, Temini Ajayi, Julie Horvath, Charles L. Nunn)

Investigating Musculoskeletal Health and Limb Biomechanics in Rural Madagascar (poster by Taylor P. Trentadue, Melissa Manus, Charles L. Nunn, Daniel Schmitt)

Shining Evolutionary Light on Global Health Challenges: Assessing Human Health in Rural Madagascar (poster by A. Sobel, T. Ajayi, R. Clarke, M. Manus, D. Samson, D. Schmitt, T. Trentadue, A. Willoughby, J. Yu, C. Nunn)

Sleep Duration and Timing in a Rural Population in Madagascar (poster by David R. Samson, Melissa Manus, Charles L. Nunn)

The Effect of Mismatch on Dental Health: A Case Study in Madagascar (poster by Rachel Clark, Melissa Manus, Charles Nunn)

Introduction by Melissa Manus (video)

Data Collection (video)

Collecting Comprehensive Health Data (video)

Blood Pressure Assessment (video)

Investigating Musculoskeletal Health and Limb Biomechanics in Mandena, Madagascar: A Quantitative Approach to Understanding Normal and Pathological Gait Patterns (poster by Taylor Trentadue)

The Skin Microbiome and Soap Use: A Study of a Rural Population in Madagascar (poster by James Yu)

Inter-Species Microbial Sharing in Rural Madagascar: A Study of Environmental Influences on the Skin Microbiome (Melissa Manus, master’s thesis for Global Health)

Reflections

Teminioluwa Ajayi, Medicine

Taylor Trentadue, Global Health ’16

This Team in the News

People Far From Urban Lights, Bright Screens Still Skimp on Sleep

Bass Connections Team Explores Intersections between Evolution and Health in Madagascar

Shining Evolutionary Light on Global Health Challenges: Assessing Human Health in Rural Madagascar

A Medical Student’s View on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Distinctive Global Health Grads (Taylor Trentadue)

See related team, Cookstoves and Air Pollution in Madagascar: Finding Winning Solutions for Human Health and Biodiversity (2016-2017).

Themes

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Charles Nunn, Trinity - Evolutionary Anthropology*
Allen Rodrigo, Trinity - Biology*
David Samson, Trinity - Evolutionary Anthropology
Daniel Schmitt, Trinity - Evolutionary Anthropology*

Graduate Team Members

Teminioluwa Ajayi, School of Medicine - MD
Melissa Manus, Master of Science in Global Health
Ashley Sobel, MD-PhD Program

Undergraduate Team Members

Rachel Clark
Taylor Trentadue, Global Health (AB)
James Yu, Evolutionary Anthropology (AB)

* denotes team leader

Status

Completed, Archived