Group Members

Thomas Flatt

Job Opportunities




Courses Offered:

Darwinian Medicine

(Course 500136; Flatt, Penn)

Invertebrate Biomodels

(Course 500130; Flatt)

Special Molecular Biology

(Course 500026; Karaghiosoff, Klein, Flatt, Metzner)

Basic Course for PhD Students in Population Genetics

(Course 094011; Schlötterer, von Haeseler, Hermisson, Kosiol, Flatt, Vogl)

Population Genetics - from Theory to Practice

(Course number 094012; Schlötterer, Flatt, Kosiol)

Spezielle Aspekte der Populationsgenetik und Evolutionsbiologie

(Course number 500117; Schlötterer, Flatt, Kosiol)


Featured Course:

"Darwinian Medicine – Why We Get Sick"

(Course number 500136)

Course Description

This course and seminar class focuses on evolutionary explanations for why we get sick; it will discuss what evolutionary biology can teach us about diseases such as infection, aging, cancer, allergy, diabetes, and obesity. Examples of major questions covered include: Are disease symptoms adaptive responses shaped by natural selection? How do pathogens and human hosts co-evolve and how does this affect our ability to fight infection? Why do we age and die? How does natural genetic variation in humans affect our likelihood of getting sick? How do evolutionary processes shape metabolism and metabolic disease syndromes such as diabetes and obesity? By drawing on medicine, evolutionary genetics, population biology, molecular biology, and physiology, this interdisciplinary course will introduce students to evolutionary thinking and inform the practice of modern medicine and health care. The students will integrate diverse perspectives on evolutionary medicine via reading, active discussion of primary literature, and writing of essays; these activities will run in parallel with a series of overview lectures given by the instructors.


The course will be taught in English. The class is for advanced undergraduate students and MSc (Diploma) students in biomedicine and biotechnology, veterinary medicine, and biology. Ph.D. students and postdocs are also welcome to participate.

Course Structure & Requirements

The course has two components: (1) a series of lectures and (2) a parallel series of reading/discussion sessions. Although the 2nd course component is optional, we highly recommend students to participate in the reading/discussion sessions. The course will be based on the following book: Stearns, S.C. and Jacob C. Koella (eds.). 2007. Evolution in Health and Disease. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. This course requires proficiency in English; the willingness to actively engage in reading and discussing book chapters and papers; and writing a review essay based on the scientific literature (10 pages). At the end of the course, the students will take a written exam. 2 lessons per (45 minutes each) per week; 15 weeks. 2 ECTS.