ASM MASTER CLASS: Diseases in Human Evolution

ASM MASTER CLASS: Diseases in Human Evolution

Monday, January 25, 2021

January 25, 27, 29, February 1 and 3, 2021
9:30 a.m. (Arizona time)
taught by Dr. James T. Watson, Associate Curator of Bioarchaeology and Associate Director

This ASM Master Class examines human bio-cultural adaptations to pathogens, including the origin, evolution, distribution, and diversity of diseases and the human groups they affect. We will examine a variety of topics including viral, bacterial, parasitic, and nutritional diseases, as well as maladaptive cultural practices. Dr. Watson will explore the evidence for how diseases impacted human groups in the past and how they continue to evolve and impact humans today.


  1. Introduction to diseases and biocultural evolution (90 minutes)
    1. What is disease (and other important vocabulary)
    2. The human immune system
    3. Paleopathology and paleogenomics
    4. Epidemiological transitions
  2. Viral Diseases (90 minutes)
    1. Smallpox
    2. HIV
    3. Kuru
    4. “Flus”
  3. Bacterial Diseases (90 minutes)
    1. Tuberculosis
    2. Bubonic Plague
    3. Leprosy
    4. Treponema
  4. Parasitic, Nutritional, & Metabolic Diseases (90 minutes)
    1. Malaria
    2. Chagas
    3. Metabolic Disease
  5. Diseases of the Modern World & Cultural Disorders (90 minutes)
    1. Neoplasms
    2. Arthritis
    3. Cultural Disorders


$100 ASM members
$150 non members

Amount paid over $50 is a tax-deductible gift.
Proceeds support Dr. Watson's research projects.
Cancelation/refund possible up to January 24. Credit card payments incur a 3% fee.


Image: "The Dance of Death" (1493) by Michael Wolgemut, from the Nuremberg Chronicle of Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514). Public domain.

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