Bangalore International Centre had arranged a talk on “Medicine in the Light of Biological and Cultural Evolution” by Dr. Ajit Varki, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular medicine, Co-director of the Center for Academic Research and Training (CARTA) at the University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies on Wednesday, 27th January, 2016 at 6.30 PM. Dr. Mukund Thattai, Professor of Computational Cell Biology, National Centre for Biological Sciences chaired and moderated the discussion.
Dr. Varki through a power point presentation projected the evolution of human beings from ancient times. He emphasized that the current system of “Westernized” Medicine emerged in the early 20th.century, bringing together knowledge gained from millennia of practice of the art of medicine in many cultures worldwide, with the modern understanding of basic sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology and pharmacology. One critical aspect of science that got left out in this revolution was evolution. This is because the modern synthesis of evolutionary biology only occurred decades later. As a consequence, the most important basic science relevant to medicine is not taught in most medical schools today. Attempts have been made to correct this problem over the last few decades, but they are still in their infancy. This lecture provided an overview of the implications of understanding biological and cultural evolution in the human species for the practice of medicine, including examples of practical relevance today.
The Q & A session was interesting and educative.