The journal includes a new study, led by Professor Michael Cant, that shows mongooses enjoy lifelong benefits of 'silver spoon' effect. 

World leading researchers give insight into link between evolutionary medicine and early life effects

The quest to determine why people experience different long-term reactions to adversity in early life has received a new, ground-breaking boost.

A team of world-leading researchers, including experts from the University of Exeter, have guest-edited the latest edition of leading journal Philosophical Transactions B, published on February 25th 2019.

The issue focuses on how our early-life experiences shape out physiology and behaviour throughout childhood and through adulthood.

Crucially, it also seeks to examine how individuals react differently to such experiences, and whether current health practices offer effective long-term mitigation.

The journal issue brings together leading researchers from the fields of both evolutionary medicine and evolutionary ecology to provide a fascinating and pioneering insight into this crucial research area.

Professor Michael Cant, one of the guest authors of the edition and from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said the journal is the first attempt to forge “explicit links between two dynamic and fast-moving disciplines.

Professor Cant said: “Early life conditions can have a profound impact on our health and longevity, and similar patterns are observed in other animals. We wanted to bring together medical and evolutionary researchers to find common ground and take the first steps toward a new theory.”

The idea for the special issue of the journal was conceived at a NERC-funded workshop featuring the guest editors, held in Falmouth in 2015.

The workshop was convened to look at how early life conditions evolve in both the animal kingdom and human societies, and their consequences for human health.

While there have been significant advances in this filed in the past 18 months, they have been made largely in isolation of one another.

The new issue aims to integrate these new insights, in the first attempt to forge explicit links between the fields of evolution and ecology.

The guest editors for the edition are Michael Cant, Bram Kuiper ,Mark Hanson, Emma Vitikainen, Harry Marshall and Susan Ozanne.

Lead Editor Bram Kuijper added, “Both medics and evolutionary biologists know that individuals are shaped by both their genes and their environment. This collection of new research shines new light on the evolutionary processes and mechanisms involved, with potential benefits for public health.”

Date: 26 February 2019

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