Living links to human health, mind and medicine

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Can the evolutionary insights of Darwin and his modern followers offer new vision into human health and medicine in the 21st century?

That’s the question going to be explored with a series of talks taking place at Edinburgh Zoo.  In the company of chimpanzees, in the Zoo’s Budongo Trail lecture theatre, the evolutionary perspective on health and medicine, ranging from self-medication in wild primates, to the new science of Evolutionary or ‘Darwinian’ medicine will be examined.

 Supported by the Wellcome Trust, the fascinating new series of talks starts on Monday 12th September with Professor Michael Huffman from Kyoto University in Japan, a world leading expert on primate self-medication in the wild and captivity, with “Chimpanzee use of plants as medicine and the evolution of self-medication in primates and other animals”

Other talks in the series include:

20th October 2011 – “Culturally transmitted information, nutrition and health in the great apes” by Professor Andrew Whiten, University of St Andrews.  Professor Whiten is Scientific Director of the Living Links Centre and an international authority on social learning and culture in human and non-human primates.  This talk will also give an overview of what the talk series is about.

27th October 2011 – “Putting our past into the present: the emerging field of evolutionary medicine” by Professor Gillian Bentley, Durham University.  Professor Bentley is a leader in this field in the UK.  Her theme is that many sources of our illness and health may be better understood using an evolutionary perspective, with the implications this yet to be fully recognised and exploited by modern medicine.

3rd November 2011 – “The primate origins of HIV and AIDS” by Dr Catherine Adamson, University of St Andrews.  Dr Adamson is a virologist who will tell the fascinating story of the origins of HIV and AIDS, as viruses jumped between closely related species and evolved across the ‘living links’ of African monkeys, apes and humans.

10th November 2011 – “Perceiving health in the face and body – new discoveries in humans and other animals” by Professor David Perrett, University of St Andrews.  Professor Perrett is a British Academy Wolfson Research Professor and a leading authority on the perception of health and beauty.

Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, comments:  “Some truly fascinating subjects, one of the key goals of the Society is to promote an understanding of the inter dependence and connectivity between all living things on this planet.  The exploration and comparison of human health, mind and medicine to our non-human primate relatives is an amazing and valuable concept to explore and I’m delighted that, together with St Andrew’s University, the RZSS is able to offer this opportunity at Edinburgh Zoo.”

The talks are organised in conjunction with a series of events and displays on the same theme in Living Links, a field station and research centre for the study of primates at Edinburgh Zoo.  Living Links has been developed in a unique partnership with RZSS and the University of St Andrews.

Each talk costs £3 and commences at 7.30pm.  To reserve seats please telephone 0131 314 0334 or email

For further information see


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