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Evolutionary biology in the medical school curriculum

moneduloides

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I am extremely passionate about evolutionary biology, and am equally passionate about medicine; the ways in which the paths of these two subjects cross is what ultimately led to my decision to go pursue a career in medicine. As such, I am always interested in the opinions of others regarding the application of evolutionary biology to a medical student's education. I have had discussions with a few current medical students regarding the topic of including evolutionary biology in the basic sciences of their education, with encouraging results. Of course, the people I spoke to were close friends and they had a collective opinion which is unlikely to be representative of the larger population (of medical students, that is).

So, with this in mind, I would like to ask all of you your thoughts on this. What impact do you think such a radical change in medical education would make?

I'll leave you with an article written in Stanford Medical Medicine entitled Darwin in medical school, and a quote by Theodosius Dobzhansky: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
 
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moneduloides

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Maybe I'm missing something, but what is this "radical change" you're talking about?

I suppose 'radical' was a bit too strong of a word. I was trying to evoke the reality that including it in the curriculum would not only have to displace time spent learning one of the already established disciplines, but demonstrate its usefulness in the face of those very disciplines' request for a larger piece of the pie. It is, in a way, radical.
 

thechad

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I suppose 'radical' was a bit too strong of a word. I was trying to evoke the reality that including it in the curriculum would not only have to displace time spent learning one of the already established disciplines, but demonstrate its usefulness in the face of those very disciplines' request for a larger piece of the pie. It is, in a way, radical.

....How does this pertain to medicine?
 

thechad

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Evolution, as I recall, is how often a gene occurs in a population. I think the OP may be thinking of the whole we came from apes thing (at least that's what I got from it).


Actually, a lot of this stuff is covered. Sickle cell, for example, is prevelant in certain areas, mostly consisting of black people. Tay sachs in certain Jewish populations. Et cetera.

What isn't covered is theoretical ideas that don't really play any part in care or treatment of patients.

I don't have time to read the other article right now, but I will later.
 

cpants

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To the extent that it is applicable, evolutionary biology is taught in medicine. For example, understanding the evolution of bacteria is important to understand the development of antibiotic resistance and other virulence factors. As far as the evolution of man goes, it just isn't very applicable to medicine.
 

PrionBurger

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If you are researching anything that has to do with DNA, RNA, or proteins, you would benefit greatly from bioinformatics tools.

Without an understanding of evolution and phylogenetics, you are SoL if you want to use bioinformatics effectively. Functional prediction is based on homology, which assumes common ancestry. You need to understand how things can change and why.

That said, few doctors will be going into research.
 
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