Undergraduate Course: Ecology & Evolution of Infectious Disease (ZLGY10030)
|School||School of Biological Sciences
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||Evolutionary medicine is a rapidly growing field that uses the principles of evolutionary biology and ecology to better understand, prevent, and treat infections, and that uses studies of disease to advance basic knowledge in evolutionary biology. This course will examine the complex problems faced by both parasites and hosts during infections and examine the solutions found by natural selection.
Evolutionary medicine is a rapidly growing field that uses the principles of evolutionary biology and ecology to better understand, prevent, and treat infections, and that uses studies of disease to advance basic knowledge in evolutionary biology. Pathogen evolution matters because it continually erodes biomedicine's efforts to control disease, but using evolutionary and ecological thinking to examine the life-and-death struggle parasites face with hosts is a surprisingly new area of research. Pathogens are ubiquitous and the success of their lifestyle makes them major divers of host evolution. Hosts must combat, or cope with, their parasites using an arsenal of defences. This course will examine the complex problems faced by both parasites and hosts during infections and examine the solutions found by natural selection. By understanding how evolution and ecology can provide new and important insights into health and disease, we will explore how evolutionary principles can inform human health, veterinary medicine, conservation, and agriculture. We will focus on questions that are the foundations of "evolutionary medicine", including: (i) what strategies have parasites evolved to maximise their success and why are some more harmful than others? (ii) how and why do parasites manipulate host behaviours to their own ends? (iii) why do circadian rhythms dictate life or death outcomes during infection? (iv) how do parasites combat drugs and vaccines and are there novel ways to control infections? (v) why do hosts vary in how they cope with disease or spread infection? (vi) what drives the emergence of new diseases and host shifts?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 10,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 7,
Formative Assessment Hours 3,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Understand and explain the evolutionary and ecological forces that shape host defences, parasite strategies, and how hosts and parasites co-evolve.
- Understand and describe why parasites vary in how they cope with life inside hosts, including the amount of harm they cause.
- Understand and discuss how and why hosts vary in their ability to combat infection.
- Understand and describe how disease spreads, and argue the benefits and drawbacks of novel ways to control infections.
- Debate the ethical challenges of evolutionary medicine.
Evolution in Health and Disease, Steven Stearns & Jacob Koella, OUP (2007)
Evolutionary Ecology of Parasites, Robert Poulin, Princeton (2007)
Evolutionary Parasitology, Paul Schmid-Hempel, OUP (2011)
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||-Understand how to efficiently interrogate scientific literature
-Understand how to present papers in a journal club format
-Understand the peer review system and how scientific literature is produced
-Ability to debate ethical considerations and contradictory evidence
-Put paper presentation and critical discussion skills into practice
-Understand science communication
-Summarise a scientific study for a lay audience
|Course organiser||Dr Pedro Ferreira Do Vale
Tel: (0131 6)50 7482
|Course secretary||Miss Rachel Law
Tel: (0131 6)51 3689