ISEMPH 2023 Program

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Plenary Speakers 



Dr. María C. Ávila Arcos, Laboratorio Internacional de Investigación sobre Genoma Humano, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Juriquilla, México 

Title: Ancient Pathogen Genomes and What They Reveal About the Colonization of Mexico

Dr. María Ávila-Arcos is an Associate Professor at the International Laboratory for Human Genome Research in the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She completed her undergraduate studies in Genomic Sciences at UNAM and later a obtained her doctorate degree in palaeogenomics at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. She subsequently did a postdoc in population genetics at Stanford University. Her work has focused on the analysis of ancient genomes from a variety of species, including plants, viruses, animals, and humans. Her current research interests turn around how the genomes of the Mexican populations have changed, as well as of various pathogens that have infected them, over time. 

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Dr. Joseph l. Graves, Jr., Professor of Biological Sciences, Department of Biology, North Carolina A&T State University

Title: Embedded racism: A critical yet neglected health determinant in Evolutionary Medicine.

Dr. Joseph Graves, Jr. received his Ph.D. in Environmental, Evolutionary and Systematic Biology from Wayne State University in 1988. In 1994 he was elected a Fellow of the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS.) In 2012, he was chosen as one of the “Sensational Sixty” commemorating 60 years of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Award. In 2017, he was listed as an “Outstanding Graduates” in Biology at Oberlin College; and was an “Innovator of the Year” in US Black Engineer Magazine. His research in the evolutionary genomics of adaptation shapes our understanding of biological aging and bacterial responses to nanomaterials. He is presently Associate Director/co-PI of the Precision Microbiome Engineering (PreMiEr) Engineering Research Center of Excellence (Gen-4 ERC) funded by the National Science Foundation (2022—2027).

Dr. James DeGregori, Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Molecular Biology and Immunology

Title: Somatic evolution - causes and consequences

Dr. James DeGregori is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics (faculty since 1997) and Deputy Director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. He has degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (B.A. Microbiology) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD Biology), and received postdoctoral training at Duke University. He holds the Courtenay and Lucy Patten Davis Endowed Chair in Lung Cancer Research, and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Aging And CancerHis lab studies the evolution of cancer, in the context of their Adaptive Oncogenesis model, with a focus on how aging, smoking, Down Syndrome, and other insults influence cancer initiation and responses to therapy. In this model, mutations face fitness landscapes that vary with age, genetics, or following carcinogen exposure. These fitness landscapes are highly dependent on the state of the tissue microenvironment in which stem cells reside. The lab has developed this cancer model based on classic evolutionary principles, and substantiated this model by theoretical, experimental and computational studies.

Dr. Yana Kamberov, Asst Prof of Genetics at University of Pennsylvania

People | kamberovlab

Title: The genetic origins of the sweaty and naked ape

Dr. Yana Kamberov joined the Department of Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2016 where her lab's research focuses on the genetic mechanisms governing the development and evolution of the skin and its resident appendages including sweat glands, hair follicles, and mammary glands. This research has led to the identification of the genetic basis for adaptive human skin traits that not only differentiate modern human populations but also distinguish humans from all other primates. A major application of research in the Kamberov lab is to leverage these evolutionary and developmental findings to establish theraputic platforms for targeted regeneration of skin appendages, particualrly sweat glands, in humans. Yana is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania from which she received her Bachelor's degree in Biology and in Anthropology.  She received her Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University. As a post-doc, Yana joined the lab of Dr. Cliff Tabin in the Genetics Department of Harvard Medical School and was co-mentored by Pardis Sabeti (Harvard Systems Biology Department, HHMI, Broad Institute), Daniel Lieberman (Human Evolutionary Biology Department, Harvard), and Bruce Morgan (Dermatology Department, Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School).

Special invited Ev Med @ UC Irvine symposium


Dr. Michael Rose, Distinguished Professor & Director of NERE, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences.


Title:  Aging; Immortality, and Diet

Dr. Steven A. Frank, Donald Bren Professor & UCI Distinguished Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences.


Title: Disease from opposing forces in regulatory control

Dr. Tallie Z. Baram, Bren Professor, Distinguished Professor, Pediatrics, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Neurology, School of Medicine, Danette Shepard Professor of Neurological Sciences, Director, Conte Center @ UCI


Title: Why Mothers Matter: From Evolution to Principles of Brain Maturation

Dr. Katrine Whiteson, Associate Professor, University of California Irvine, co-Director of the UCI Microbiome Center.


Title: Better together: Bacteriophage Cocktails More Effectively Constrain Bacterial Growth

Talks by winners of the Omenn and Williams Prizes

The winner of the $5000 Gilbert S. Omenn Prize for the best 2022 article on evolution, medicine and public health in any journal. 

Palmer, J. D., & Foster, K. R. (2022). The evolution of spectrum in antibiotics and bacteriocins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(38), e2205407119.

The first author, Jacob D. Palmer, will present the work at ISEMPH 2023:

The evolution of spectrum in antibiotics and bacteriocins 

The Prize Committee also awarded Honorable Mention to: Two modes of evolution shape bacterial strain diversity in the mammalian gut for thousands of generations, by Frazão, N., Konrad, A., Amicone, M., Seixas, E., Güleresi, D., Lässig, M., & Gordo, I. (2022).  Nature Communications, 13(1), 5604.

ISEMPH thanks this year's prize committee chair Caleb Finch, Committee members Koos Boomsma, Raghavendra Gadagkar, Steve Austad, Connie Mulligan, and Carol Worthman. The prize is made possible by Gilbert S. Omenn. 

The winner of the George C. Williams Prize for the best 2022 article published in Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health

Evolved resistance to a novel cationic peptide antibiotic requires high mutation supply by Santos-Lopez, A., Fritz, M. J., Lombardo, J. B., Burr, A. H. P., Heinrich, V. A., Marshall, C. W., & Cooper, V. S. (2022).  Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health10(1), 266–276.

First authors Alfonso Santos and Melissa Fritz will present the work at the ISEMPH annual meeting in Irvine, California, 14-17 August 2023:

Experimental Evolution to Study the Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance

Warmest thanks to the Editor, Cynthia Beall, and the Prize Committee: Sylvia       Cremer (chair), Bridget Alex, and Roderich Römhild and to donors who make the    Prize possible.

Other program highlights

Other program highlights include a reception, a conference banquet, poster sessions with beverages and hors d'oeuvres, discussion groups, and several workshops and special symposia. And, of course, plenty of sessions with oral talks and discussion!

This year's meeting will have exceptional training and networking opportunities designed to accelerate the careers of early-stage investigators (students, postdocs/residents, and junior faculty). These include workshops devoted to science communication, such as publishing with popular media outlets (run by an editor at Sapiens magazine) and in ISEMPH's flagship journal (run by the editor-in-chief), as well as navigating graduate school and job hunting. 

Program committee

  • Alejandra Núñez-de la Mora, PhD (Chair)
  • Molly Fox, PhD (Co-Chair)
  • Adrian V Jäggi, PhD 
  • Liz Mallot, PhD 
  • Cristina Moya, PhD 
  • Nicolas Rohner, PhD 
  • Meredith Spence-Beaulieu, PhD 
  • Anne Stone, PhD 
  • Elizabeth W Uhl, PhD 
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