Goal 1: Promote Human Health

Use of Evolutioinary Biology in Medicine

Given that chronic diseases are 'Evolutionary Biology' in reverse, can we use developmental and phylogenetic principles to diagnose and treat them safely and effectively?

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Biomedical research is currently in crisis. Both basic science and translational science are failing to provide new insights to the causes of disease and their eradication. Instead, we are encouraged as biomedical researchers to devise ways of eliminating the symptoms of disease. This is a very bad practice since it facilitates the retention of maladaptive genes in the gene pool.


This practice is the result of continuing to practice biology and medicine descriptively, like Chemistry and Physics were as Alchemy and Astrology. The lack of a fundamental understanding of the First Principles of Biology originating in unicellular organisms fosters continued study of associations and correlations instead of causal mechanisms. If the National Science Foundation were still funding Astrology, we would see the same lack of predictive value that we see in biology and medicine today. Society cannot afford to continue sponsoring such pseudoscience. This problem is already recognized indirectly due to the failure of the Human Genome Project to fulfill its promise of curing common chronic diseases such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and obesity. But the withholding of funding from the NIH to shake out the dead wood will not solve the problem, because it is due to the use of the wrong paradigm. Understanding how and why vertebrates evolved on the cellular-molecular level offers a way of understanding causation in biology and medicine rendering them predictive.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

This initiative is highly feasible since we already have the methods available to us in the biomedical research community. The problem is in recognizing that applying 'omics' to the problems we face using same old same old Pathophysiology will not solve the problems of medicine. That precept is founded on Health as the absence of disease, which proved useful for a century, but we are now attempting to tackle more difficult fundamental problems that require a more powerful approach. The Evolutionary Biology approach offers the opportunity to define Health objectively rather than relativistically, i.e. health and disease are a continuum generated by the mechanisms of evolution.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : John Torday, Virender Rehan, Neil Blackstone


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-15 net votes
13 up votes
28 down votes
Idea No. 426