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Darwin Day 2021: Evolution and medicine

This year's Darwin Day event covers the topic of evolution and medicine. Speakers: Charles Swanton, Felicia Keesing, and Bruce Levin.

Charles Darwin painted by G. Richmond.

Charles Darwin by G. Richmond.


11.00-11.15. UiO Rector Svein Stølen and CEES Chair Kjetill S. Jakobsen.

Opening remarks.

11.15-12.00. Professor Charles Swanton

Lecture title: Cancer evolution, metastasis and immune evasion

Francis Crick Institute & UCL Cancer Institute, London, UK
Link to Swanton's profile page.

12.00-12.15. Professor Nils Chr. Stenseth

Announcing the winner of the Darwin Price

12.15-12.45. Break

12.45-13.30. Professor Felicia Keesing

Lecture title: An evolutionary perspective on the ecology of infectious diseases

Bard College in Annandale, New York, USA.
Link to Keesing's profile page.

13.30-14.15. Professor Bruce Levin

Lecture title: A Darwinian perspective on adaptive immunity and why we get cancers

Emory University, USA.
Link to Levin's profile page.

14.15-14.20. Professor Kjetill S. Jakobsen.

Closing remarks.


Charles Swanton

Professor Charles Swanton, MDPhD, FRCP, FMedSci, FAACR, FRS.
Francis Crick Institute & UCL Cancer Institute, London, UK. (Swanton's profile page.)

Lecture title

Cancer evolution, metastasis and immune evasion


(To be announced.)


Charles completed his MDPhD training in 1999 at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories and Cancer Research UK clinician scientist/medical oncology training in 2008. Charles is a senior group leader of the Cancer Evolution and Genome Instability Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute and combines his research with clinical duties at UCLH, as a thoracic oncologist, focussed on how tumours evolve over space and time. Charles researches branched evolutionary histories of solid tumours, processes that drive cancer cell-to-cell variation in the form of new cancer mutations or chromosomal instabilities, and the impact of such cancer diversity on effective immune surveillance and clinical outcome. Charles is chief investigator of TRACERx, a lung cancer evolutionary study and the national PEACE autopsy program. (Full length bio for Swanton (pdf)).

Felicia Keesing

Felicia Keesing is David & Rosalie Rose Distinguished Professor of the Sciences, Mathematics, & Computing.
Bard College  in Annandale, New York, USA. (Keesing's profile page.)

Lecture title

An evolutionary perspective on the ecology of infectious diseases


(To be announced.)


Felicia Keesing is a biologist at Bard College in New York, USA who studies the consequences of interactions among species, particularly as biodiversity declines. Much of her work focuses on how species diversity influences the probability that humans and other animals will be exposed to infectious diseases. In addition, she has worked in Kenya for over 20 years studying how the disappearance of elephants, giraffes, zebras, and other large mammals influences the way African savannas function. In 2000, she received a United States Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Bill Clinton.

Bruce Levin

Professor Bruce R. Levin is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Biology at Emory University. (Levin's profile page.)

Lecture title

A Darwinian perspective on adaptive immunity and why we get cancers


(To be announced.)


Levin obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, 1967. PNAS writes about his research: "Levin uses mathematical and computer modeling and experiments with bacteria to investigate basic ecological and evolutionary questions. He employs the same techniques to study health-related problems, including the epidemiology and evolution of pathogenic bacteria and the population and evolutionary dynamics of antibiotic treatment and resistance." (Read the profile of Levin in PNAS.)

Published Dec. 15, 2020 1:25 PM - Last modified Jan. 20, 2021 9:35 PM