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Club EvMed: Student Spotlight with Lafi Aldakak, Chenlu Di, and Iman Hamid

  • 24 Sep 2020
  • 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Zoom; meeting link to be shared upon registration

Club EvMed: Student Spotlight

Thursday, September 24th at 11am ET

Join us for a special Club EvMed where we’ll be highlighting some of the exciting graduate student research in the field of evolutionary medicine. We will hear 12-minute research talks from Lafi AldakakChenlu Di, and Iman Hamid (see abstracts below). There will be a brief Q&A period at the end of each talk, plus breakout rooms after all 3 talks to allow for more in depth conversations with the speakers. Sign up here for the meeting link.

The evolution of immune sensitivity and tolerance under multiple costs of immunity and ecological feedbacks” by Lafi Aldakak, University of Zurich Institute for Evolutionary Medicine. We explore how immune resistance and tolerance are affected by the pathogen’s characteristics and the host’s life-history traits. We examine a situation where the molecular signatures of parasites, used by the host for identification, have a normal distribution overlapping with the host’s own. Due to epidemiological feedbacks, the more hosts tolerate the parasite, the bigger its prevalence and hence the risk of infection. We determine the evolutionary stable strategies of the host’s immune sensitivity and find that hosts tolerate parasites with high mimicry and low virulence. Long lifespan selects for tolerance in the innate immunity but high resistance in the adaptive immunity. This contradicts previous findings and results from our inclusion of epidemiological feedbacks and immune memory.

“The causes of strongly depleted recent adaptation in human disease genes” by Chenlu Di, University of Arizona. Despite the fact that our knowledge of gene-disease associations has greatly expanded, it is currently unknown if human non-infectious disease genes have adapted more or less than genes not involved in diseases. By a conservative comparison between human non-infectious disease and non-disease genes, we found a strong depletion of recent adaptation in human disease genes. This supports our hypothesis that disease genes are more likely to be genes that are sensitive to changing environments and have not adapted to new environments yet.

“Rapid adaptation to malaria in under 20 generations in the admixed human population of Cape Verde” by Iman Hamid, Duke University. Malaria has played a major role in human evolution as one of the strongest selective pressures in human history. Recent large-scale migrations have exposed human populations to new environments and diseases, such as malaria. How quickly humans can adapt to such a strong selective pressure and how this rapid adaptation shapes genomic variation remain unclear. Here, we develop ancestry-based methods to test for evidence of and characterize rapid adaptation to the malaria parasite, Plasmodium vivax, during the last 20 generations in the admixed population of Cape Verde.

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