Special Issue "Evolutionary Medicine"

A special issue of Genes (ISSN 2073-4425). This special issue belongs to the section "Population and Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Oscar Lao

Centre Nacional d'Anàlisi Genòmica, Centre de Regulació Genòmica (CNAG-CRG), Parc Científic de Barcelona - Torre R, Baldiri Reixac 4, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: human population genetics, human evolution, bioinformatics, analysis of genetic diversity, population substructure, algorithms
Guest Editor
Dr. Olga Dolgova

Centre Nacional d'Anàlisi Genòmica, Centre de Regulació Genòmica (CNAG-CRG), Parc Científic de Barcelona - Torre R, Baldiri Reixac 4, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Population genetics; human genomics; evolutionary biology; bioinformatics; species evolution ; adaptation; natural selection; Deep Learning; Approximate Bayesian Computation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Evolutionary medicine focuses on interpreting health and disease from an evolutionary perspective by using the well-established evolutionary framework and the currently available plethora of methods and tools developed in the fields of evolutionary genetics and population genetics. Understanding health and disease has traditionally focused on identifying the molecular and physiological mechanisms that caused a disease and, based on this knowledge, proposing strategies for alleviating and reverting the disease symptoms. In all of this, understanding the ultimate roots of illness—why evolution has shaped these mechanisms in ways that may leave us susceptible to a particular disease—has been mostly neglected and/or ignored. However, this question is particularly relevant in human species. First of all, humans evolved to live as hunter-gatherers in small tribal bands—a very different way of life and environment compared to that faced by contemporary humans. This change makes present-day humans vulnerable to a number of health problems, termed “disease of civilization”. Second, as humans multiplied and spread across the planet, they encountered thousands of local variations in diet and disease that generated diverse selection pressures. Those selection pressures wrote varied signatures on the locally diverging genomes; finally, drift and founder events added to the genetic divergence of local populations’ susceptibility to particular diseases.

This issue will address questions that advance the intellectual development of linkages between evolutionary biology and medical science, focusing on evolutionary explanations for human susceptibility to disease, suggesting improvements connected to evolutionary mechanisms in clinical practice, public health procedures, research approaches, or medical education and being of interest to clinicians, public health professionals, medical researchers and educators, and evolutionary biologists.

Best regards,

Dr. Oscar Lao
Dr. Olga Dolgova
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Genes is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • evolutionary medicine
  • misuse
  • disuse
  • thrifty gene hypothesis
  • health and disease
  • positive selection

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Tentative title: Selective pressures on cancer genes along the mammalian phylogeny

Tentative authors: Alberto Vicens and David Posada

Affilations: Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Immunology, University of Vigo, Spain. Biomedical Research Center (CINBIO), University of Vigo, Spain.
Galicia Sur Health Research Institute, Vigo, Spain.

Tentative abstract: Cancer is a malignancy that arose with the evolution of multicellularity. While some tumor suppression pathways are conserved among all multicellular organisms, others mechanisms of cancer resistance are lineage specific, such as it has been observed in large and long-lived animals. Cancer biology has been deeply studied in humans during the last century, and in the last decade cancer genomics has identified a number of human cancer driver genes. Nonetheless, it is possible that most non-human species have acquired a different repertoire of cancer genes and/or selective pressures acting among species (germline evolution) might be different from those acting within human tumors (somatic evolution). In this study, we will assess selective pressures on human cancer genes in mammalian lineages using comparative genomics. Our findings might contribute to better understand the basis of tumor suppression and carcinogenesis, and could ultimately help to improve cancer prevention in humans.



Tentative title: Widespread tuning of obesity risk by the genomic background

Tentative authors: Sini Nagpal, Greg Gibson, Urko M. Marigorta

Affilations: Center for Integrative Genomics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Tentative abstract: The prevalence of the so-called diseases of affluence, such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension, has exploded in the last two generations. Although genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have discovered hundreds of genes involved in disease etiology, the sudden increase in disease incidence suggests a major role for environmental risk factors. Obesity constitutes a case example, with ample evidence of gene-by-environment interactions that accentuate obesity risk in individuals following obesogenic lifestyles. Through a variety of analyses using the UK Biobank, we confirm that the genomic background plays a major role in shaping the expressivity of alleles that increase body mass index (BMI). We close with a discussion about the implications for genetic studies and phenotype prediction.

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