Med students to study dinosaur ailments

March 1, 2006

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is launching a unique program to teach medical students the evolutionary history of humans and animals.

Partnering with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the university says by learning the origins of human disease, such as back pain and cancer -- which existed in Jurassic Age dinosaurs -- students should better understand contemporary public health concerns.

Scientists say there are myriad common medical ailments whose roots can be traced back millions of years, when our human ancestors evolved from walking on all fours to standing on their two hind legs.

Cancer can be dated back even further since Carnegie Museum of Natural History researchers have proof by way of a 150-million-year-old Jurassic dinosaur bone, its tumor still preserved.

Understanding the origins of human diseases could help identify fresh avenues toward their prevention and treatment. At the very least, university officials said, an appreciation of the evolutionary history of humans and other animals should produce better medical doctors and physician-scientists.

The partnership -- the Natural History of Medicine Initiative -- is the first of its kind involving a medical school and natural history museum.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Time travel with the molecular clock

Related Stories

Time travel with the molecular clock

November 23, 2015

Migration isn't a new phenomenon, but new insights suggest that modern-day Europeans actually have at least three ancestral populations. This finding was published by Johannes Krause and prominently featured on the cover ...

Green campaigner readies to swim the Pacific

November 21, 2015

Never mind the sharks or the swirling ocean debris that await him, Benoit Lecomte is counting the days until his long-distance swim from Tokyo to San Francisco—to raise awareness of environmental threats in the Pacific.

Recommended for you

Amazon deforestation leaps 16 percent in 2015

November 28, 2015

Illegal logging and clearing of Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 16 percent in the last year, the government said, in a setback to the aim of stopping destruction of the world's greatest forest by 2030.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.