Satellite: What Complex Systems Theory Offers to Evolutionary Medicine

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
8:30 am – 5:00 pm Location
Hilton DoubleTree:  Redrock

Satellite Organizers

Randolph Nesse, Arizona State University, USA
Kenneth Buetow, Arizona State University, USA
Manfred Laubichler, Arizona State University, USA
Sander van der Leeuw, Arizona State University, USA


Applications of evolutionary biology in medicine are growing fast but are only now incorporating advances in the analysis of complex systems. The range of applications is wide. Gene networks are characterized by complexity vastly different from that of designed systems, resulting in both robustness and special vulnerability. Complex networks of positive and negative feedback loops regulate genomic, cellular and physiological systems whose disruption results in disease that can manifest at all these levels. Therapeutic interventions can disrupt these networks in ways that can be useful, but that can also result in additional risks that require understanding in complex systems terms. Within the broader context of medicine, systems of medical care organization evolve and grow as well, creating sudden transitions that can undermine the quality of patient care. We anticipate that the call for abstracts for this symposium should bring proposals from many scientists working on related problems who will, in the course of this symposium, create new connection and collaborations. The talks by those scientists will be integrated with talks by the organizers.


Defensive Complexity and the Evolution of Vertebrate Adaptive Immunity

Carl Bergstrom, University of Washington, USA
Erick Chastain
Rustom Antia

Emergence Observed Through Gene Networks: a Critical Driver of Complex Disease Phenotypes
Kenneth Buetow, Arizona State University, USA

Evolutionary Conservation of Glucocorticoids and Corticotropin Releasing Hormone: Behavioral and Physiological Adaptations
Jay Schulkin, Georgetown University, School of Medicine, USA

Intrinsically Vulnerable Facultative Adaptations: Implications for Medicine
Randolph Nesse, Center for Evolution & Medicine, Arizona State University, USA

Cooperation and Cheating in Complex Multicellularity
Athena Aktipis, Arizona State University, USA

Surprises from Complex Systems Modeling of the Somatic Evolution of Cancers
Carlo Maley, Arizona State University, USA

A Complex Dynamic Systems Perspective on Major Depression
Eiko Fried, University of Lueven, Belgium

Complex Systems Theory and Evolutionary Medicine: the Societal Dimension
Sander Van Der Leeuw, Arizona State University and The Santa Fe Institute, USA

Disease as an Evolving Complex System
Manfred Laubichler, Arizona State University and The Santa Fe Institute, USA