Robert Perlman


Professor Emeritus, Departments of Pediatrics and Pharmacological & Physiological Sciences and the College, University of Chicago; Editor Emeritus, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.


I am interested in the new field of evolutionary or Darwinian medicine, the integration of evolutionary biology with medicine. Evolutionary concepts provide a framework for understanding why we remain vulnerable to disease, how pathogens and cancer cells evolve in response to medical interventions, and how our biology has been shaped by our ancestors' burden of disease. In addition, evolutionary theory helps us appreciate the origins and significance of human variation. Integration of an evolutionary perspective into medical research may lead to new interventions to prevent, cure, or ameliorate disease. While my focus is on bringing these insights to the medical community, I believe they will also be of interest to non-scientists. 


Book: Evolution and Medicine, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013

Book description

Sample chapter

University of Chicago publicity



Selected peer-reviewed publications:

Mouse models of human disease: an evolutionary perspective. Evol Med Public Health 2016

Archibald E.Garrod: the father of precision medicine. Genet Med 2016.pdf

            Subject of a podcast, The Real Father of Precision Medicine Listen

Evolution and medicine. Perspect Biol Med 2013.pdf

Evolutionary biology: A basic science for medicinePerspect Biol Med 2011.pdf

Making evolutionary biology a basic science for medicineProc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010.pdf

Life histories of pathogen populationsInt J Infect Dis 2009.pdf

Evidence-based medicine againPerspect Biol Med 2009.pdf

Socioeconomic inequalities in ageing and healthThe Lancet 2008.pdf

Why disease persists: An evolutionary nosologyMed Health Care Philos 2005.pdf

Disparities and discrimination in health carePerspect Biol Med 2005.pdf


Other publications:

            Review of Principles of Evolutionary Medicine, Q Rev Biol 92, 97, 2017

Disparities in Surgical Care Medical Ethics Advisor July 2016 pp 77-79.pdf

Richard L. Landau (1916–2015) Perspect Biol Med 2015.pdf

Review of Classification, Disease and Evidence. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2015.02.32.pdf

Evolutionary considerations can inform animal research. BMJ 12 June 2014.pdf

Hope and health. OUP Blog 10 Nov 2013.pdf

Dr Darwin at the bedside. The Scientist Oct 2013.htm

The socioeconomic context of health and healthcareMidway Review Winter 2007.pdf


Selected professional activities

Faculty Board, Human Rights Program

Advisory Board, Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program

Associate Editor, Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health

Correspondent, The Evolution and Medicine Review