EBIO 2010


Evolution in Human Health and Disease

Class Meets:  Monday and Wednesday 6:00-8:50, Norman Mayer 106.

Instructor:  Dr. Bruce E. Fleury

Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Stern 4030, x8290, 865-5191 (Bio Office)
email: bfleury@.tulane.edu
home page: http://www.tulane.edu/~bfleury/
Office Hours for Dr. Fleury: Stern 4030; summer office hours by appointment (see me after class to schedule)


    Neese, R.M., and G.C. Williams. 1996. Why We Get Sick. Vintage: New York.
    Crawford, D. 2009. Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped Our History. New York: Oxford UP.

Additional readings (journal articles) may be assigned during the semester, and will be available on library reserve.

Philosophy and Goals

Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is the central tenet of modern biology. Darwinian medicine offers a new perspective on human health. Application of Darwin's ideas to the evolution of pathogenic organisms, and consideration of their coevolution with their human hosts, has given modern medicine new insights into why we get sick and the ways in which we heal. Traditional medicine has focused on the proximate causes of diseases and treatment for their symptoms. By considering human health and disease from an evolutionary perspective, modern medicine is gaining new insights into why diseases occur, and how the human body is adapted to respond to them.

This course will introduce non-science majors to this new evolutionary perspective on disease, while also considering non-evolutionary aspects of common diseases, such as social, political, and cultural aspects of human health and illness. Students will gain a deeper appreciation about human health, and acquire information that may help them to make critical health care decisions for themselves and their families.


There will be two exams, a midterm and final, for a total of 200 points. Exams will be one hour lecture exams, each exam counting 100 points. The final exam is not cumulative. Exams will consist of definitions, fill-ins, and short answer essay questions. Grades will be assigned as a percentage of 200 points using the scale shown below.

A      93-100  B+    87-89 C+    77-79 D+    67-69
A-     90-92 B      83-86 C      73-76 D      60-66

B-    80-82 C-    70-72 D-    55-59

Students are reminded that all members of this class will adhere to the LAS Honor Code, which can be found at: http://www.tulane.edu/~uc/honorcode.htm

Schedule of Topics







Intro, Evolution, Invisible Realm NW ch.1-2
Stone Knives, Germ Theory
NW ch. 3




Arms Race, Microbial Strategies
NW ch.4


Virulence, Death by Chocolate,



Midterm Exam


Bambi's Revenge, Germ of Laziness


1918 Flu

Germ Warfare


Cancer, Senescence NW ch. 8, 12, 15


Legacies, Diseases of Civilization NW ch. 7, 9, 10
Final Exam

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Outline Notes in Text Format for Summer syllabus
The following lectures are not included in the Summer syllabus
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This page was last updated on 6/26/16