Anthropology and Global Health: Genes, Biology, and Culture

Saturday, February 19, 2011: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
147B (Washington Convention Center )
Global health studies approach diseases from a universalistic viewpoint wherever they occur in the world. However, diseases take place on a local scale in a variety of sociocultural and environmental settings and in populations with a range of biological characteristics. This symposium illustrates the efficacy and power of combining the universalistic biomedical perspective with the local perspective of anthropology. Two presentations in this symposium illustrate these points with case studies using cutting-edge genomics. One identifies geographic locations and genetic loci associated with chronic disease vulnerability, and the other has detected the evolution of malaria plasmodia threatening to circumvent evolved human resistance traits. Two presentations concern asthma. One explains the increasing prevalence and one analyzes cultural variation in diagnosis and management. A fifth presentation considers how to solve the double problem of over- and underweight in settings with many resources and those with few. The final presentation illustrates the influences of culture and religion on the use of assisted reproductive technology. This symposium illustrates the scientific and applied efficacy of an integrated knowledge of genes, biology, and culture and of combining the powerful tools of biomedicine and anthropology to better address the problems of global health.
Cynthia M. Beall, Case Western Reserve University
Peter Zimmerman, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Susceptibility to Plasmodium vivax Malaria: New Perspectives from Madagascar
Kathleen Barnes, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
The Hygiene Hypothesis and Vulnerability to Asthma
David Van Sickle, University of Wisconsin
Cultural Variation in Diagnosis and Management of Asthma
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