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NIH Curriculum Supplements for High School
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Evolution and Medicine

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Grades 912

Students explore evolutionary principles and learn how evolution informs human health, biomedical problems, and disease treatment. The supplement contains two weeks of lessons that are easily integrated into your curriculum and are aligned to national and state standards.

1. Ideas about the Role of Evolution in MedicineRecognize that understanding the mechanisms of evolution, especially adaptation by natural selection, enhances medical practice and knowledge. Using an evolutionary tree, explore how common ancestry shapes the characteristics of living organisms.
2. Investigating Lactose Intolerance and EvolutionUnderstand that natural selection is the only evolutionary mechanism to consistently yield adaptations and that some of the variation among humans that may affect health is distributed geographically.
3. Evolutionary Processes and Patterns Inform MedicineExamine how health and disease are related to human evolution and understand why some diseases are more common in certain parts of the world. Analyze data and apply principles of natural selection to explain the relatively high frequency of disease in certain populations.
4. Using Evolution to Understand InfluenzaUnderstand how comparisons of genetic sequences are important for studying biomedical problems and informing public health decisions. Apply evolutionary theory to explain the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.
5. Evaluating Evolutionary ExplanationsUnderstand the importance of evidence in interpreting examples of evolution and medicine. Appreciate that natural selection and common ancestry can explain why humans are susceptible to many diseases.
Supplement cover page for 'Evolution and Medicine'

"Superb job ... I am not easily impressed with new approaches in education, but this particular approach bowled me over."
– Daniel L. Hartl, Ph.D., Higgins Professor of Biology, Harvard University

“This unit impressed most of my students by making them analyze and connect in new ways.” – Field-Test Teacher

“The selection of diseases used in relating and understanding evolution and medicine is very relevant and appropriate.” – Field-Test Teacher

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