Evolution represents a natural experimental process for testing animal design features. Driven by environmental pressures, animals have evolved adaptations which can give valuable insights into human biomedical conditions. The giraffe by virtue of its extremely long neck has a mean arterial pressure much higher than other mammals. However, the giraffe does not develop vascular damage or heart failure despite its high mean arterial pressure. The giraffe’s cardiovascular system challenges many of our concepts about hypertension. The bear hibernates and is immobile for about five months over winter. During this time the bear does not eat, drink, urinate or defecate. Yet the bear shows no signs of renal failure, disuse osteoporosis, disuse muscle atrophy or venous clots. Birds have high blood sugars with some like the hummingbird having extremely high blood sugar values. Yet birds do not suffer from diabetes or diabetic tissue damage. Turtles and high-altitude birds can tolerate low oxygen levels without developing brain damage. These examples underscore the valuable insights that natural animals can furnish with respect to biomedical disorders. Yet, this information database remains a largely untapped resource. Classes will consist of a presentation followed by a question and answer period. No weekly preparation is needed.
What Can We Learn from Natural Animal Models about Human Diseases?
I graduated from medical school (University of Toronto) in 1964. After postgraduate training in Boston and Cambridge England, I practiced renal medicine and am now retired. I have given three LLAIC courses; Evolution; Is Aging a Disease?; and Genes: What are they? How do they work? How are they regulated?