Fall 2021 - BISC 441 D100

Evolution of Health and Disease (3)

Class Number: 3659

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
    WMC 3210, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 11, 2021
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    AQ 3005, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    BISC 202 or 204 with a grade of C- or better. Recommended: BISC 300.



Application of the principles and theories of evolution and ecology to the study of health and disease, with a particular but not exclusive emphasis on humans. Topics to be covered include the evolutionary ecology of infectious disease, the immune system, cancer, senescence, fetal programming, and the genetic/environmental bases of disease. The course will involve a combination of lectures by the primary faculty member teaching the course, discussions, student research projects (papers, written and revised, and presentations to the class), and specialist guest lectures.


Course Website: CANVAS

In this course you will learn how to apply evolutionary principles to the study of human health issues. You will learn the medically-relevant fundamentals from evolutionary theory, genetics, evolutionary ecology, and life history theory. Then you will apply this theory to the full spectrum of topics related to human health, including fetal development and fetal programming, reproductive health, genomic conflicts, diet, infectious disease, genetic and environmental disease predisposition, cancer, the microbiome, heart disease, senescence, psychiatric illness, and other issues. The course will be run as a combination of lectures and discussions.


  • Written assignments 50%
  • • Exams 50%


Mode of Teaching

Lecture: synchronous (and will be recorded) 

Midterm(s): synchronous; date TBA 

Final exam: synchronous; date TBA


Effective immediately, the Department of Biological Sciences is adopting a mandatory mask policy for all areas under Biology’s control and in spaces elsewhere where Biology faculty teach, applying to everyone regardless of vaccination status.





Evolutionary Medicine by S. C. Stearns and R. Medzhitov, 2015  

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.