Garofalo, Evan Michele, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Genetic and Environmental Effects on Skeletal Growth Variation,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Britton Ruff
EVAN M. GAROFALO, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Genetic and Environmental Effects on Skeletal Growth Variation,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Britton Ruff. Adult morphology and variation are the result of complex interactions between genetic and environmental effects during the growth process. Health, disease, and socio-economic status are important for the regulation of the growth trajectory, particularly during infancy and early childhood. However, genetic differences, increasing in prominence during adolescence, contribute significantly to growth profiles and the attainment of adult morphology. Thus, the primary goal of this project is to partition the relative importance of environmental and genetic influences on the timing and nature of the growth process. Multiple skeletal variables, each differentially sensitive to environmental and genetic influence, were examined to assess the skeletal growth of individuals from St. Peter's Church (Barton-upon-Humber, UK) -- a socially stratified and relatively genetically homogeneous population. In this study, there is no effect of socioeconomic status on long bone length, stature, body mass or articular dimensions. However, long bone diaphyseal cross-sectional cortical and medullary areas (considered to be highly environmentally sensitive) show marked differences, primarily during infancy and early childhood, with reduced or no differences for young adults. Early results and palaeopathological observations suggest socioeconomic groups differences may be related to sustaining more prolonged durations of metabolic distress in the higher socioeconomic subadult sample.
Klein, Laura Danielle, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Impacts of Maternal Disease Ecology on Milk Immunofactors and Infant Immune System Development,' supervised by Dr. Katherine J. Hinde
Preliminary abstract: Mothers' milk provides crucial immunological protection to the infant during early life. However, little is known about how the immune molecules that are present in milk vary among women living in vastly different nutritional, disease, and cultural ecologies. This project will use a longitudinal study in a population of small-scale agriculturalists at the Mogielica Human Ecology Study Site in southern Poland to investigate how aspects of the local environment, including diet and disease exposure, relate to the variation in composition of immune factors in breast milk within a population. This project will also examine how variation in mothers' milk might influence infant immune system development by taking advantage of a regularly schedule vaccine that mimics a natural immune challenge.
Paschetta, Carolina Andrea, U. Nacional de Rio Cuarto, Puerto Madryn, Argentina - To aid research on 'Dietary Shifts During Modem Human Evolution and their Effect on Craniofacial Size and Shape,' supervised by Dr. Rolando Gonzalez-Jose
Preliminary abstract: The craniofacial phenotype can suffer changes promoted by epigenetic or environmental factors. Among them, masticatory mechanical stress is perhaps one of the most important epigenetic stimuli which acted during the recent evolution of our species. In particular, technological transition from hunting-gathering is invoked to be concomitant with a significant reduction of masticatory stress. The main objective is quantify the differences in modern human samples with different economic strategies (hunter/gatherers, farmers, etc.), not only in the overall skull morphology, as well as in localized structures, in order to detect common, recurrent changes in craniofacial size and shape due to environmental stimuli. A geometric morphometrics techniques will be used to track these changes on at least three cases of economic transitions on New World populations. Changes observed in concomitance on all the transitions will be, in consequence, postulated as good candidates of plastic structures which probably promoted rapid evolution of modern humans across different adaptive (dietary, nutritional) shifts.
Wander, Katherine Susan, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Immunocompetence and the Hygiene Hypothesis,' supervised by Dr. Bettina Shell-Duncan
KATHERINE S. WANDER, then a student at University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, received funding in October 2009 to aid research on 'Immunocompetence and the Hygiene Hypothesis,' supervised by Dr. Bettina Shell-Duncan. Extensive research in allergy epidemiology has demonstrated that early exposure to infectious agents is associated with lower risk of allergic disease. An evolutionary perspective suggests that such early exposure may affect not only pathological immune responses to allergens, but also healthy immune responses to pathogens as a developmental adaptation, tailoring immune responses to the local infectious disease ecology. To evaluate this hypothesis, this project evaluated associations between early life infectious disease exposure and: 1) allergic disease; and 2) delayed-type hypersensitivity to Candin (an immune response to pathogen antigen, indicating immunocompetence). Consistent with finding in the US and Europe, large family size was associated with lower risk of diagnosed allergic disease. Consistent with the hypothesized developmental adaptation in immune system development, large family size, hospitalization during infancy with an infectious disease, and BCG vaccination scar were positively associated with immunocompetence (delayed-type hypersensitivity to Candin). These results suggest that not only do early infections discourage the pathological immune responses that result in allergy, they also promote healthy immune responses to pathogens, reflecting adaptive plasticity in immune system development.
Garruto, Dr. Ralph M., State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Longitudinal Studies of Health Transition and Culture Change in Vanuatu'
DR. RALPH M. GARRUTO, State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Longitudinal Studies of Health Transition and Culture Change in Vanuatu.' Health burdens are changing in developing countries worldwide. Whereas chronic diseases such as hypertension and obesity were once primarily diseases of industrial countries, these now represent major health concerns in the developing world. Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation of 68 inhabited islands, is currently experiencing this change in disease patterns, or 'health transition.' Comparing chronic disease risk and population characteristics among islands could help to clarify how health transitions develop, and the social, behavioral, and economic factors driving the change. From June-August 2011, nearly 2000 individuals from five islands participated in surveys of behavioral, nutritional and economic patterns and body measurements (such as height, weight, and body fat). Preliminary results indicate that health patterns change in ways specific to the behaviors and economic conditions of each island and the degree of outside influence, regardless of geographic remoteness. Chronic disease risk is also influenced by the risk of infectious diseases, which impact not only an individual's phenotype, but also behavioral and economic factors (such as growth of the tourism industry) that in turn affect the population's health. This project contributes to our understanding of human biological variation across geographical regions and the factors that determine health outcomes in Pacific Island populations.
Kreager, Dr. Philip, Oxford U., Oxford, UK - To aid workshop on 'Population in the Human Sciences: Concepts, Models, Evidence,' 2011, Oxford, in collaboration with Dr. Stanley Ulijaszek
Preliminary abstract: The workshop addresses the need for review and assessment of the framework of interdisciplinary population studies. Limits to prevailing postwar paradigms like the Evolutionary Synthesis and Demographic Transition were becoming evident by the 1970s. Subsequent decades have witnessed an immense expansion of population modelling and related empirical inquiry, with new genetic developments that have reshaped evolutionary, population, and developmental biology. The rise of anthropological and historical demography, and social network analysis, have played major roles in rethinking modern and earlier population history. More recently, the emergence of sub-disciplines like biodemography and evolutionary anthropology, and growing links between evolutionary and developmental biology, indicate a growing convergence biological and social approaches to population. New modelling techniques, particularly relating to network analysis, are applied across these several fields, and at several levels of analysis. The several developments have not, however, displaced the older paradigms and the concepts and methods of population analysis on which they rested. Current developments often coexist uneasily with them. The workshop is designed to bring together researchers at the forefront of these developments, drawing on their and related work to consider current concepts and practices used to construct and analyse populations. Discussion will emphasize comparison of similarities and differences amongst models, methods and concepts; potential cross-fertilisation of research; and whether a new cohesive framework for population studies is emerging. The workshop marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Human Sciences Programme at Oxford, and of the symposium on population supported by Wenner-Gren that was held at that time. Proceedings of this workshop, like its predecessor, will be published.
Patil, Dr. Crystal L., U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'A Biocultural Examination of the Peripartum Period'
DR. CRYSTAL L. PATIL, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in April 2008, to aid research on 'A Biocultural Examination of the Peripartum Period.' Fieldwork was carried out from May-August in 2009 and 2010, among subsistence agriculturalists living in north-central Tanzania. Using a mixed-methods ethnographically-informed protocol the project examined: 1) the patterning of the peripartum; and 2) nodes of decision-making around place of birth. The study compared narratives collected from women, traditional and biomedical health practitioners, health administrators and support staff, and community leaders, and observed births in the hospital. Sociopolitical, economic, and environmental conditions were discussed and themes emerging from these interviews were integrated into a community-level survey. Three villages, at various distances from the hospital were included in the survey. Targeted follow-up interviews were conducted to better understand nodes in the pathway of decision-making in birth. In addition to publications, these results will be integrated into policy briefs and presented to the community for use in local policy-making in hopes of reducing maternal mortality.
Wiley, Dr. Andrea S., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Milk Consumption and Child Growth in Pune, India: A Biocultural Investigation'
DR. ANDREA S. WILEY, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Milk Consumption and Child Growth in Pune, India: A Biocultural Investigation.' The relationship between milk intake (cow or water buffalo), growth, and levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-I) was investigated in a cohort of approximately 175 rural and urban children from Pune (Maharastra) India. India is the world's largest milk producer and consumption has increased with gains in income and domestic production. Results of previous studies of milk intake and growth have been inconsistent, and there are no longitudinal studies tracking milk consumption, IGF-I and growth across childhood. Milk contains IGF-I, serum IGF-I levels increase after milk consumption, and IGF-I has been positively correlated with both milk intake and height. The cohort has detailed maternal data on diet during pregnancy, and growth and dietary data from birth to 2 years and IGF-I at birth and at 2 years. In this study children were seen twice at age 5-6 years, six months apart. At each visit a complete dietary and health questionnaire was administered, including detailed questions on milk and dairy intake. They were assessed anthropometrically and a blood sample was taken to measure IGF-I. Interviews with caretakers, Allopathic, and Ayurvedic practioners, and reviews of popular media were undertaken to gain an understanding of perceived relationships between milk consumption and child growth/health.