This year 2020 is marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since last year we finished 10 MedEvo Meetings and concluded 10 cycles of MedEvo Seminars, we take advantage of the circumstances to pause our face-to-face activities.
However, we have learned a lot and it would be nice to apply our knowledge and our way of synthesizing multidisciplinary experience to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

We make a first attempt by offering two opinion articles, which can be downloaded at the bottom of the page or at the following links:

We answer the possible questions that you ask us to, if they are of general interest they will be published. And we leave below the possibility to provide comments

December 2019:

The X. Conference on Evolutionary Medicine took place, held at the University Hospital de la Princesa, Madrid. The Medical Director of the Hospital Eduardo García Navarrete inaugurated the Conference highlighting the fundamental role of the Evolutionary Theory for the understanding of biological processes and therefore health and disease. This is one of the main contents of an emerging field, in which coordinators Alvaro Daschner, allergist at the IIS- Hospital Universitario de la Princesa, the anthropologist José-Luis Gómez Pérez and the geneticist María José Trujillo Tiebas of the IIS- Fundación Jiménez Díaz have been working for 11 years, having offered 10 Conferences, 41 seminars and 204 different presentations of a multidisciplinary nature, facilitating the publication of 5 volumes with more than 50 chapters in the field.

The multidisciplinarity is reinforced in recent years with a collaboration of the National Museum of Natural Sciences, whose director Santiago Merino spoke of the connection between parasitism and disease, and the incorporation of Philosophy into the environment of analysis of science. Thus the philosopher Valerio Rocco Lozano, who is currently director of the Circle of Fine Arts of Madrid (Círculo de Bellas Artes) presented ideas of interest on scientific progress that should be associated without fear about possible failures. Under the slogan "10 Years of Evolutionary Medicine: Milestones and Achievements. Convergence with progress in Medicine?" this Conference also wanted to underline the importance of fields currently booming, but that the evolutionary approach has already been able to predict in the first activities of the MedEvo team 11 years ago.

Thus the microbiologist Teresa Alarcón Cavero of IIS-Hospital Universitario de la Princesa spoke of the microbiome as a new explanatory paradigm of disease and the neuroscientific biologist Francisco Martín Castro of instituto Cajal (CSIC) on the field of epigenetics and their opportunities. Alvaro Daschner presented new ideas on the adaptive role of the allergic response, also emphasizing how ideas left in oblivion just 10 years ago have been able to resucitate thanks to an evolutionary approach.

The MedEvo team wanted to emphasize during the Conference and the debates that hypotheses based on a strong theory such as the Evolutionary Theory are more likely to survive in time or less likely to be refuted. In a time of scientific hyperspecialization, Evolutionary Medicine offers an environment that is able to unite the rapidly growing knowledge of the data (big–data) that different technologies are offering us.

December 2018:

As on otheroccasions, the IX. Conference onEvolutionary Medicine under the title "Plasticity or determinism: anevolutionary approach to disease" has been well received by a very multidisciplinaryaudience with attendees mostly from biomedical fields such as medicine,different specialties, Biology, Physiotherapy, Nursing and Psychology.

On thisoccasion, the organizers proposed an intellectual journey that began with thehistory of determinism, presented by the philosopher Valerio Rocco Lozano. Hetreated the concepts of chance, individual freedom and free will andhighlighted how big data arecurrently able to predict with great accuracy the percentages of future groupbehaviour, while the future of a specific individual cannot be predicted.

Next, thepsychologist Miriam Félix Alcántara pointed to the importance of traumaticevents in childhood as the origin of obesity. Traumas stand out among thosethat affect attachment, which is also correlated with worse compliance withtherapeutic proposals.

On theother side, the geneticists María-José Trujillo Tiebas and Almudena ÁvilaFernández talked about the genetic and metabolic bases of obesity, detailing,among others, the thrifty genotype or phenotype hypothesis that would make morevulnerable to certain populations of the human species.

N.Valentina Ortiz Cabrera, also geneticist, presented precocious puberty as anexample of adaptability to changing environments through epigenetic mechanisms.

Thepsychologist David López Sanz convinced the public of the new vision of brainfunctioning, which rather than an approach based only on specific regions foreach function is modelled by the connectome, which includes the way in whichthese areas are connected and established.

Finally,the biologist-anthropologist José-Luis Gómez Pérez and the allergist ÁlvaroDaschner proposed a vision of the patient and the doctor, respectively, whenfaced with the question of what we can or should do and if we have plasticity(as freedom of action) enough when facing disease, its diagnosis, theestablishment of the diagnosis or finally the treatment proposal.

The debateswere enriching since the speakers versed on the different subjects underdifferent angles of experience, evidence and specialty. Thus, while thepresentations offered a psychological versus genetic and metabolic view ofobesity, the audience also pointed to the possibility of lack of micronutrientsor the dietary patterns of modern society. The philosophical attitude of eachindividual to feel free to act in the context of determinism was open. It wasalso of interest to address the responsibility of the patient or the role ofthe doctor facing and audience’s question if it can be foreseen that in thefuture computers will replace the medical decisions, based on the processing ofbig data. However, this forum hasserved, based on an evolutionary prism and aspects of diversity, dynamism ofthe environment and the organism-environment relationship, to propose theimpossibility that the available data of the so-called "omics" may replace the holisticknowledge that includes the medical art.

Understanding  of psychiatric pathology from an evolutionary perspective. Inheritance and environment interaction
Physicians, biologists and clinical psychologists attended the VIII Conference on Evolutionary Medicine on 28/11/2017. This day was characterized by being very specific on this occasion since it was concerned  with the understanding of psychiatric pathology by looking at adaptation and environment.

It started with a presentation by Maria José Trujillo-Tiebas who tried to contextualize the theme to be treated evolutionarily. She spoke of biological mechanisms that underlie behavior, both genetic (hereditary) and epigenetic aspects (mechanisms modulated by the environment that can also be transmitted to descendants) and current studies in highly analyzed pathologies such as schizophrenia and the most recent ones about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). She explained concepts such as heritability and twin studies that are carried out. She presented many examples of endophenotypes, behavioral traits, curiosities and proposed an established relationship with the immune system. She left us many questions to reflect on our current way of life and the expression of these pathologies in the vital context that we have had to live.

Elena Guerrero explained what the BPD is, how it manifests itself, how heterogeneous and unknown it is and how it is treated from the psychological point of view. Likewise, she highlighted that signs of co-morbidity such as addictions and the clear association with traumatic events in childhood and attachment problems usually appear. She showed us illustrative videos that helped to understand the disease, considered as serious from the psychiatric point of view.

Antonio Gil Mingoarranz told us about the similarities and differences of the BPD with Bipolar Disorder, emphasizing that they are not the same although they can come together and that people usually confuse the symptoms. Bipolar disorder has a greater genetic component than BPD that seems to have a more environmental component.

Fernando Sánchez gave us the keys to understanding BPD explaining the theoretical approaches from the psychological point of view of this disorder such as 1) the failure in the maturational mechanism of the self that leads to the borderline borderline state (pseudoself, immaturity / weakness of self and distortion of identity) and 2) of the structural dissociation of personality caused by complex trauma due to abuse (such as neglect-abandonment, physical violence, or sexual abuse).

Silvia Vallejo gave a presentation on the psychiatric aspects of childhood trauma and suicidal behavior. She spoke about how early adverse experiences in life, can be adaptive for the individual, but when traumatic events are severe and / or sustained over time, alterations in the epigenetic mechanisms occur in the regulation of the expression of the genes causing the risk of developing psychiatric pathology in adult life, such as anxiety, impulsivity, aggressiveness, as well as cognitive alterations. She told us about the most current investigations carried out in Dr. Gustavo Tureki's laboratory where she was trained.

Manuel Faraco Favieres put the finishing touch to the Meeting talking about his specialty, Eating Disorders. His presentation on anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorders, more common in women, as well as orthorexia and vigorexia (more common in males). He explained with very novel evolutionary hypotheses. Reproductive suppression, intra-sexual competition and flight from the famine are among the most prominent hypotheses.

Some of these talks are published in our IV Volume in Evolutionary Medicine

Under the title "Commitments and compensations in evolution and disease" on December 1, 2015 took place the VII. Meeting of Evolutionary Medicine at the Universidad Universitaria de la Princesa. In front of an audience of diverse health sciences related professions, which included general practitioners, specialists in different areas, biologists, psychologists, nurses and students seven again multidisciplinary talks were presented. The presentations focused on the biological concept of "trade-off", a principle that describes the inability to invest or improve an advantageous feature without paying a price for it.

AlvaroDaschner, from the Allergy Service of that hospital and together with Maria Jose Trujillo Tiebas and Jose-Luis Gomez Perez coordinators of the MedEvo platform, performed the introduction to the concept of "trade-off" referring to the evidence that even if medicine and public health measures are able to control or eradicate diseases (especially infectious), other ailments, such as chronic inflammatory diseases are on the rise especially in developed countries.

The following contribution by biologists Juan Carlos Alvarez Ruiz and Angel Perez Menchero, focused in the impossibility of an "optimal design"  in evolution, the result of a constantly changing environment and the necessary evolution of the characters.
Juan Moreno Klemming, form the National Museum of Natural Sciences, described the reasons of aging, mainly concluding that aging would be a trait not actively influenced by mechanisms of natural selection.

Maria-Jose Trujillo Tiebas, geneticist at the Fundación Jimenez Diaz gave many examples of hereditary diseases where the frequency of recessive alleles in populations remain because they confer adaptive advantages of heterozygous individuals at the expense of maintaining individuals who suffer lethal diseases. She centered the attention to the fact that the Jewish Ashkenazy population has emerged a 29% of Nobel prize despite being only 0.25% of the world population. Interestingly, this population carries several hereditary diseases with neurological condition, especially affecting sphingolipids deposition involving the major component of myelin protein that covers neuronal axons and allows fast transmission of nerve impulses.

In the second part of the meeting Ana Barabash, from the Laboratorio de Endocrinología of the Hospital Univeristario San Carlos, explained several hypothesis of possible antagonistic pleiotropy at the ApoE4 allele, an important risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular disease, and which could explain the significant prevalence in populations through selective advantages in reproductive age.

The psychiatrist Eduardo Barbudo form the Hospital unive rsitario San Carlos, also showed obesity and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a context of possible inherited advantages at other levels.
Finally Francisco Abad, from the Servicio de Farmacología of the inviting hospital, discussed the methodology of clinical trials to open a debate on the possible improvement of these tool to assess the effects of drugs.

During the discussions, it became clear that the current role of certain biological traits, should be assessed also in different settings, such as in ancestral history of populations or other environments because this could identify their possible origin in order to explain certain symptoms or diseases which are major focus of modern medicine. In addition, it became clear that medical practice attempts to provide solutions to an individual, but evolutionary interpretation takes into account the population level as a whole. 

On January 2015 we organized our VI. Meeting in Evolutionary Medicine:

Our VI.thematic meeting on Evolutionary Medicine with the title "Personality andbehavior: The boundaries between normality and disease. An evolutionaryapproach" dealt with neurological and psychiatric diseases of genetic orenvironmental origin and the significant impact on the quality of life ofindividuals and their families.

The meetingbegan with the conference "Neurodegenerative Diseases in the evolutionarydebate", given by Victor Volpini, who talked about how these diseasesaffect individuals in adulthood in post-reproductive periods. He centralized hispresentation on ataxias and involved genes and explained the concept of sprandels,which is a term introduced by Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin in 1979,and employed in evolutionary biology, referring to those features or elementsthat have not evolved as a result of biological adaptation, but as a result ofthe emergence of other adaptations through natural selection. He concluded thatneurodegenerative diseases are characteristic of longevity, which in earliertimes would be infrequent and longevity in men may have started as a sprandel,meiotically inherited by having a possible adaptive value in women.

 Juan JoséCarballo's and Clara Isabel Gomez communication "Is hyperactivity a moderndisease?" deepened into the epidemiology, aetiology and heritability ofhiperactivity, as well as the adaptive advantages of this entity. Given thehigh prevalence (5-10%) and extension of ADHD worldwide, it is unlikely that a"disorder" can be so prevalent in the human species if not positivelyselected.

The 7-DRD4allele whose gene is the D4 dopamine receptor, the most studied candidate genein ADHD, has been described as the positively selected allelic form. Thepresence of this allele has been associated with the personality trait ofnovelty seeking, and his presence confers a genetic risk between 25-50% ofdeveloping ADHD. Individuals with these features in a sedentary populationbecomes marginal, whereas in nomadic populations individuals are successful. Ithas been found that there is a positive correlation if we look at the currentgeographical distribution of allele DRD4-7R, which is low in the more stablepopulations and Asia, but high in populations with high migration influence asin America.

AntonioJosé Cabranes in his speech "Obesity? Biology, nutrients andemotions" reviewed how the biological system attempts to maintain weightand how specific genetic and environmental factors may influence it. He spokeof the heritability of obesity and involved genes and how stress early in lifecan influence the development of the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis andalso the the regulation of hormones related hunger / satiety and alter behaviorof intake on the long term. In his reflections we noted the existence of a"critical" link between stressors and obesity induced by ingestion.So he exhibited e.g. excessive intake of "palatable" foods in anenvironment of reward when there is no possibility for the typical reaction of"fight or flight" to a danger stimulus.

 After thebreak Pedro García Ruiz-Tang intervened with a lecture entitled "Mor-phologiclevolutionary brain changes and movement disorders. What have we achieved and atwhat price? ". He explored the changes of the human brain in the lastthousands years and how these changes may be related to movement disorders, suchas deficits in neurotransmitter (Parkinson) or by excess (dystonia). Many ofthese disorders are only human and related to the specific evolutionarydevelopment, such as Parkinson's disease, with a high prevalence (1% in thoseover 70 years) or the cultural environment such as in dystonias. Parkinson'sdisease, in which there is a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine, maybe related to the substantia nigra, which did not raise enough in size, but hasevolved innervation to other areas to a much greater degree. The distonías are characterizedby muscle contractions in abnormal postures. A highly repetitive action canlead to occupational dystonia. It is estimated that one in ten musicians developoccupational dystonia that prevents them to continue their profession.

In the nextlecture Estrella Gomez Tortosa with her communication "Clinical andgenetic correlations in degenerative dementias" defined the concept ofdementia as a global and acquired decline of intellectual faculties, and alsoindicated that between 30 and 50% of the degenerative dementias, such asAlzheimer's disease, have a hereditary character with a bout twenty known geneswhose alterations have been associated with different phenotypes of dementia.Again, human longevity appears as a risk factor for the occurrence of suchdiseases.

 FinallyEnrique Baca García with a presentation entitled "Mood Disorders. Evolutionaryadvantages vs. disadvantages " talked about depression (which can be aclaim of care from other people to the depressed individual) and costs (10% oflost work hours for depression), on anxiety and its possible adaptive value, aswell as certain types of seasonal depressions that in past periods could havebeen advantageous for the population as it lowered the activity level of theindividual in periods of shortage.

During thedebates the assistants to the meeting discussed that evolutionary medicinecould be a possible way to establish new lines of research and that certaindiseases could be mismatches to the current environment. Cephalization(one of the distinctive evolutionary traits of the human species) along withlongevity (which allows efficient transmission of culture, also characteristicof the genus Homo sapiens) paysomehow the success they have assumed in our species. Someclinical examples emerged and opened the discussion of the  possible practical applicability of the proposedideas in the different presentations, such as the positive effect of preventivemeasures of some neurodegenerative diseases through exercise or adequatenutrition.

In the year 2014 we organized our V. Season of Seminars in Evolutionary Medicine 

and have now edited our second volume of

Medicina Evolucionista: Aportaciones pluridisciplinares

(Evolutionary medicine: pluri-disciplinary contributions)


On 3rd of December 2013, the V. Conference meeting on Evolutionary Medicine was held in Madrid (Spanish):

Challenging Evolutionary Medicine: Adaptation levels and disease


 More information 



On 4th of December 2012, the IV. Conference meeting on Evolutionary Medicine was organized with the title “Disease and biological fitness”. Like in previous years the multidisciplinar team, formed by allergist Alvaro Daschner from the University Hospital La Princesa, anthropologist José-Luis Gómez Pérez and geneticist Maria-José Trujillo Tiebas from Fundación Jiménez Díaz in Madrid, invited speakers of different disciplines to speak about the interplay between genetic variation, epigenetics, the immune system and the environment, searching for answers for the appearance of disease from an evolutionary point of view. For more information and abstract viewing (in Spanish) clic on MORE

 On november 29, 2011 our III. Meeting on Evolutionary Medicine had the title "Infections as motor of evolution". Speakers came from a broad spectrum of disciplines, where in the first part general aspects were approached on the topic of infections, their history and evolution. In the second part practical examples were offered, applying evolution theory in medicine with a special emphasis on infections. Speakers from the fields of microbiology, immunology, veterinary science and parasitology showed the usefulness of a multidisciplinary approach in this field. In spite of the more monographic topic of this meeting edition, the attending audience was even greater than in previous editions.

Second Meeting on Evolutionary Medicine 2010:


Summary from the 2009 Meeting:
The opening scientific meeting on Evolutionary Medicine with the title: "Application in Allergy and Immunology" on 2. december 2009 at the University Hospital La Princesa in Madrid has been welcomed wih a net interest. 120 professionals of Biology and Medicine of different specialities came to listen to 8 speakers, who have explained their scientific work and the evolutionary context of various aspects:
José Enrique Campillo Álvarez, author of "El mono obeso" spoke of the metabolic syndrome and its relationship with the thrifty genotype. José Luis Gómez Pérez worked out basic concepts of evolutionary mechanisms. Labib Drak spoke about the evolution of the genus homo and about some findings in paleopathology. Maria-José Trujillo Tiebas gave several examples of genetic disease, which could have evolved by heterocygote advantage.
During the second part of the meeting Silvia Sánchez-Ramón spoke about the evolutionary perspective of the immunologic recognition and the task of the adaptive immunity as an answer to the advantages of microorganims when adapting to new environments. Alvaro Daschner explained the existing hypotheses with respect to allergic disorders and especially the revised hygiene hypothesis in a world without worms. He added his own view on the possible advantage of the acute allergic reaction (urticaria, anaphylaxis) in the context of the acute parasitism by Anisakis simplex (Gastro-allergic Anisakiasis). Carmen Cuéllar del Hoyo spoke about co-evolution of parasites and the human being and explained a whole battery of evasion mechanims by parasites. The final talk was performed by Teresa Alarcón Cavero, who explained in very comprehensible terms the evolutionary aspects of the actual swine flu virus H1N1.
         Both debates have been rather enriching due to the best teaching faculty of all speakers who were able to induce the interest and curiosity of the audience.
One of the aims of this meeting was to investigate the possibility of interest for future meetings of this kind. This aim has been achievd not only due to the high number of professionals coming to the meeting, but also by the patent interest during the debates. Thus we will search for future topics and speakers in Evolutionary Medicine.
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