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.
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.
George, Ian Douglas, U. of Missouri, Columbia, MO - To aid research on 'Mapping the Cerebrocerebellar Language Network and its Role in Human Neuroevolution,' supervised by Dr. Kristina Aldridge
Preliminary abstract: Language is arguably the key factor that has influenced the evolution of the human brain. It is likely that increased language capabilities in humans are associated with both gross morphological changes as well as with novel neural networks. Endocasts, our only direct evidence of the brains of human ancestors, have revealed a disproportionate increase in size of the cerebellum relative to the cerebrum. Moreover, it is thought the cerebellum plays an important role in modulating language production through neural networks with the cerebellum. This project seeks to map the connectivity between the cerebrum and cerebellum and establish the pattern of the language-specific cerebrocerebellar network (LSCN) in the adult human brain thought the use cutting-edge in vivo quantitative imaging techniques. The proposed research will be the first to verify that the cerebellum is a key component of the language network in the brain. In addition, the proposed research will provide critical data on how much can be known about language from the study of fossil brain endocasts by testing the assumption that surface morphology reflects the architecture of underlying brain structure, enabling us to test the hypotheses that make predictions about the behavior of fossil hominin ancestors from endocast data.
Kuzawa, Dr. Christopher, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Developmental Plasticity of Male Reproductive Ecology and Life History'
DR. CHRISTOPHER KUZAWA, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in December 2005 to aid research on 'Developmental Plasticity of Male Reproductive Ecology and Life History.' Dr. Kuzawa and an international team from Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), and the University of San Carlos (the Philippines), investigated whether fetal and infant nutrition and growth influence male reproductive biology (morning and evening salivary testosterone; luteinizing hormone measured in blood samples). They hypothesized that birth weight or length (measures of prenatal nutrition) and/or growth rate or diarrheal morbidity during infancy (postnatal nutrition) would predict adult testosterone levels. Participants included roughly 900 young adults in a long-term study of health in the Philippines. In this population, males born tall and skinny had highest T levels as adults. During infancy, how often an individual experienced the nutritional-stress of diarrhea predicted future T levels: the more nutritional stress early in life, the lower the production of T in adulthood. Similarly, weight gain during infancy, an indirect measure of nutritional sufficiency, was a strong positive predictor of adult T levels. These responses likely involve changes in regulation by the brain and also in testicular development. This study is significant as it is among the first to demonstrate how early life nutrition can have a lasting influence on the reproductive ecology of the adult male.
Piperata, Barbara A., U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'The Energetics of Lactation among Tropical Horticulturists Living in the Brazilian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Darna L. Dufour
BARBARA A. PIPERATA, while a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, received funding in January 2002 to aid research on the energetics of lactation among tropical horticulturists in the Brazilian Amazon, under the supervision of Dr. Darna L. Dufour. Piperata's goal was to understand how tropical horticultural women met the increased energetic demands of lactation when they lived in conditions of food scarcity and practiced subsistence agriculture. She followed twenty-three women over their first six months of lactation and took measurements of their dietary intake, energy expenditure, and body composition at three times (forty days, two to four months, and six months postpartum) in order to identify the strategies used to meet the increased energy demands of lactation. One of the most interesting adaptive strategies these women used was the cultural practice called resguardo. During this forty-day immediate postpartum period, the women were excused from all strenuous work, including subsistence activities, and depended on other household members, especially husbands, to meet subsistence demands. By two to four months postpartum, women had returned to more normal activity patterns, and body fat stores became important for meeting energy needs. By six months postpartum, all women were supplementing their infants' diets, but most women continued to lose weight, indicating that their food intake was insufficient to meet their caloric needs. Thus, the strategies utilized by these women changed over the course of lactation. These findings illustrate the importance of an in-depth, longitudinal, biocultural approach to studying a life-history event such as lactation.
Piperata, Barbara A., and Lindsey M. Gooden Mattern. 2011. Longitudinal Study of Breastfeedng Structure and Women's Work in the Brazilian Amazon. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 144(2):226-237
Piperata, Barbara A. 2007. Nutritional Status of Ribeirinhos in Brazil and the Nutrition Transition. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 133(2):868-787.
Piperata, Barbara. 2004. Rural-to-Urban Migration in Latin America: An Update and Thoughts on the Model. American Journal of Human Biology 16:395-404
Piperata, Barbara. 2007. Diet, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition of Lactating Ribeirinha Women in the Brazilian Amazon. American Journal of Human Biology 19:722-734
Piperata, Barbara. 2007. Nutritional Status of Ribeirinhos in Brazil and the Nutrition Transition. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 133:868-878
Vercellotti, Guiuseppe, Barbara A. Piperata, Amanda M. Agnew, et al. 2014. Exploring the Multidimensionality of Stature Variation in the Past through Comparisons of Archaeological and Living Populations. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155(2): 229-242.
Vercellotti, Giuseppe, and Barbara A. Piperata. 2012. The Use of Biocultural Data in Interpreting Sex Differences in Body Proportions among Rural Amazonians. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 147(1):113-127.