Welcome to Biomed Bites, a feature that appears each Thursday and introduces readers to some of Stanford’s most innovative researchers.
My parents just returned from the trip of a lifetime to the Galapagos. I would have loved to go along — I really dig tortoises, which abound on the islands; my parents even saw a pair mating! And, ever since I took an introductory class on evolution as an undergrad, I've longed to visit the spot that was central in Darwin's postulation of the theory of evolution and natural selection.
No famous finches for me though — I just toiled away behind my computer in northern California. But that doesn't mean evolution is only happening in another hemisphere. Far from it: Just down the street in the lab of Gavin Sherlock, PhD, experiments are ongoing to elucidate evolution's fundamental processes.
Sherlock shares his views role of evolution in disease in the video above:
The evolutionary process underlies many disease mechanisms. One such example is cancer, which recapitulates the evolutionary process as mutation occur and then get selected within the tumor. In addition, treatments with chemotherapy may select particular mutations within the tumor itself.
Resistance to antibiotics is also driven by evolution, Sherlock points out. With a deeper understanding, researchers will be better able to combat cancer and craft more effective antibiotics — no international travel required.
Learn more about Stanford Medicine’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative and about other faculty leaders who are driving biomedical innovation here.
Previously: Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble — yeast dynasties give up their secrets, Get sloshed, have sex? Wine-making has promoted a frenzy of indiscriminate mating in baker's yeast, according to Stanford researchers and Computing our evolution