Week1 Topic Reading2

1 (8/28) Introduction; Objectives; Assumptions N-Preface, N1, W1, G-Intro

2 (9/4) Population genetics N2, W2 (p. 2-38), G1, G-afterward

3 (9/11) Selection and adaptation; Systematics W2 (p. 39-90), G2

4 (9/18) Systematics; Human evolution; Evolutionary legacies Problem Set, N9, G4, G5

5 (9/25) Diseases of civilization; Injury N10, N5, G6, G15

6 (10/2) Poisons and toxins, Midterm I (Tu 10/2) G3, N6, G9

7 (10/9) Sex and reproduction; Immunology N13, Reserve Reading

8 (10/18) Immunology (cont.); Allergy N11, G12

9 (10/23) Cancer; Mental disorders N12, N14, G7

10 (10/30) Genetic disease and senescence; N7, N8, G8

Midterm II (Th 11/1)

11 (11/6) Infection and evolutionary arms races; Demography N3, N4, W3, (p. 111-127)

12 (11/13) Evolution of pathogens - antibiotic resistance G13


14 (11/27) Ecology of Disease G14

15 (12/4) AIDS, Paper II (Thurs. 12/6) G10, G11

16 (12/11) Lyme disease; Conclusions G17

(12/18) Final Examination (Tues. 11:00 am - 1:30 pm)


1Dates in parentheses are the dates on Tuesday of each week. 2Chapters in Nesse and Williams (N), Garrett (G) or Wilson and Bossert (W). Reading assignments should be completed by Tuesday of the week in which they are assigned.


Instructors and Office Hours: Michael A. Bell (Life Sciences 023; e-mail: mabell@life.bio.sunysb.edu) and Daniel K. Dykhuizen (Life Sciences 638; e-mail: dandyk@life.bio.sunysb.edu), Department of Ecology and Evolution. Both of us will hold office hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, 2:30 -3:30. Talk to us in lecture to make an appointment for another time.

Course Rationale: Human pathology has proximate causes that depend on genetic, physiological, developmental and behavioral mechanisms. Pathology also has ultimate causes that depend on evolutionary mechanisms. Important insights into human pathology can be gained by studying both types of causation, but medicine has traditionally emphasized proximate causation.

In recent years, interest has grown among evolutionary biologists in the ecology and evolution of interactions between hosts and their parasites and pathogens and in the ultimate causes of degenerative diseases, including senescence and cancer. The course objective is to introduce concepts needed to understand human pathology in terms of ultimate causes. Similarities between evolutionary explanations for pathology in other organisms and humans will be presented to demonstrate the power of this approach in fields that are not so strongly colored by their implications for the human condition. An appreciation of the ultimate causation of pathology may lead to new strategies for prevention and therapy.

Prerequisites: We assume that students have had an introduction to biological diversity, classification, evolution, ecology, molecular and Mendelian genetics, and cell and animal physiology. Thus, BIO 151, 152, and 320 are prerequisites for this course.

Reading: Reading is assigned from the following three books:

Nesse, R. M. and G. C. Williams. 1996. Why We Get Sick. Vintage, New York.

Garret, L. 1994. The Coming Plague. Penguin Books, New York.

Wilson, E. O. and W. H. Bossert. 1971. A Primer of Population Biology. Sinauer,


These books may be purchased at Stony Books (near the train station on 25A) but not at the campus book store. Reading assignments should be completed by Tuesday of the week in which they are listed in the lecture schedule.

Examinations, papers and grading: Grades will be based on 700 points, distributed as follows:

Paper - Thursday, December 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100

Midterm I - Thursday, October 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100

Midterm II - Thursday, November 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

Final Exam - Tuesday, December 18, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm . . . . . . . 300

Midterms will be based on information presented in all prior lectures, except the lecture immediately preceding the midterm, and reading assigned for the period since the previous examination (including the week of the exam). The second midterm will have 50 points of review questions, and the final exam will include 100 points divided between material from the first two thirds of the course. There will be relatively few reading questions (5 - 15% of points), and they will be general enough to be answered after a single attentive reading of the texts. Midterms will be designed to take about an hour, and answers will be written directly on the test sheets. Most questions will require a few words or sentences.

Midterms will normally be returned at the end of the second lecture after the exam. When you receive your midterm, check addition of the score immediately. Then compare your answers to the grading key posted outside Mike Bell=s office. See us within one week after the midterm is returned if you want a question regraded.

Give us advanced notice if you expect to miss an exam. Contact us as soon as possible after an exam if advanced notice is impossible. If no valid excuse (preferably written) is provided, a grade of zero will be assigned for missed exams. If a valid excuse is provided, at our discretion, a makeup exam will be scheduled or a score will assigned by prorating scores from subsequent exams. You must take the final exam and at least one midterm to receive credit for the course. Students who miss the final exam without a valid excuse will be assigned a grade of F in the course.

Paper: One short (5-6 pages) paper will be due on Thursday, December 6 at the beginning of class. The topics will be handed out about a week before the due date to prevent purchase of papers from commercial sources. There will be a daily penalty for late papers.

Upper Division Writing Requirement: The two papers from BIO 350 may be submitted as a set by Biology Majors to meet the "Upper-Division Writing Requirement" for the major (see applicable Undergraduate Bulletin). Forms and information are available in the Undergraduate Biology Office, Old Chemistry Building, room 140.

Course Grade Distribution: The course grade will be computed by adding all exam and paper scores. The average grade in this course should be a middle C (2.4, A = 4.0). However, the grade distribution (including +/-) and average grade depend on the point distribution.

Religious Observances: Please inform us immediately if any of the assignments or examinations in this course conflict with a religious holiday you observe. Provisions will be made to allow you to complete your work and observe the holiday.

Disabilities: If you have a physical, psychiatric, emotional, medical, or learning disability that may impact on your ability to carry out assigned course work, we urge that you contact staff in the Disabled Student Services office (DSS), Humanities Building room 133 (632-6748/TDD). DSS will review your concerns and determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. Information and documentation of disability are confidential.

Academic Dishonesty: Any effort to circumvent the evaluation process to improve any student's grade in this course is academic dishonesty. Such efforts include, but are not limited to, unauthorized examination of written materials (e.g., neighbors' papers, notes on one=s hand) during examinations, plagiarism (see below), misrepresentation of the cause of an absence from an examination, and theft of University library materials.

Students who commit academic dishonesty gain an unfair advantage in the course and may impose significant costs on the University. Please report academic dishonesty to us, and anonymity will be protected if requested. If we believe academic dishonesty has occurred, we will submit an accusation with supporting evidence to the Academic Judiciary Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences with a recommendation of F in the course

(see Undergraduate Bulletin). Accused students will be informed after the report has been submitted. There are no mitigating circumstances for academic dishonesty.

Plagiarism is misrepresentation of another person's writing as one's own. You are responsible for understanding what plagiarism is; see us if you are unsure about what constitutes plagiarism. Plagiarism includes photocopying or changing the name on a paper written by another student. It also includes incorporating from published or unpublished sources one or more sentences, whether they are intact or slightly modified, whether the sentences are consecutive or scattered among sentences you have written yourself. It even includes incorporating pieces of sentences written by other authors into your own sentences. Plagiarism is prohibited because you are expected to learn a topic and discuss it in your own words. (A paper consisting of long passages in quotation marks with literature citations is not plagiarism but does not reflect your learning and will be graded accordingly.) If we believe plagiarism has occurred on either of the course papers, we will report it to the Academic Judiciary Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences. Because we have clearly described what constitutes plagiarism, we will recommend that a grade of F in the course be assigned to plagiarists.

While we try to discourage cheating to protect honest students, we encourage students to work together to prepare for examinations and to criticize (not rewriting) the form (including proofreading) and content of other student=s papers. If you prepare for an exam with another student, do not sit near her/him during the exam because students who study together sometimes make similar errors, raising the suspicion of cheating. Innocence is easily verified if students with similar errors sat far apart during the test.

Lectures: Sometimes we mis-speak, we are sometimes unclear, and sometimes we present information that is simply difficult, too condensed, or assumes you know something you have never been taught. Do not hesitate to ask for immediate clarification during a lecture. Such questions both insure that unclear points are clarified and provide us with feedback on the clarity of our lectures. (If we are impatient with your question, please tell us to stop being crabby!)

Letters of Reference: It is difficult in a lecture course to get to know students well enough to write an informative letter of reference. Thus, we do not anticipate writing many letters of reference for students in this course. However, if you feel we have had a chance to get to know you, please speak to us well before the end of the course about writing a letter of reference in your behalf.