“When Hippocrates Meets Darwin: The Interface of Medicine and Evolutionary Biology”


Dr. Max Shpak

Dr. Max Shpak
Research Scientist, NeuroTexas Institute at St. David’s Medical Center

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
5:45 p.m. – Networking Reception
6:30 p.m. – Presentation

It is increasingly being recognized that both infectious diseases and cancer are evolutionary systems driven by mutation, natural selection, and stochastic population processes. In this presentation, Dr. Max Shpak will discuss evolutionary processes and their occurrences among cell lines in human organs and tissues, sometimes to our benefit (as in the humoral immune response), but also to the detriment of our health in the cases of cancer and tumors generally.


Max Shpak is a research scientist at the NeuroTexas Institute at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, and also a research fellow at the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology at UT Austin. He earned a BA in mathematics from Cornell University (1997) and a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University (2004). He has taught courses in computational biology at The University of Texas at El Paso and at UT Austin. Shpak’s research interests span a wide range of areas in population and evolutionary biology, having done original work in such disparate topics as phylogeny reconstruction, the genetics of speciation, demographic stochasticity, game theory, and the genetics of structured populations. His publications have appeared in journals such as Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Evolution, Genetics, Theoretical Population Biology, The Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, Journal of Molecular Evolution, and Genomics. Most recently, he has been applying methods from comparative and population genomics to further our understanding of cancer biology, particularly glioblastoma and other brain cancers.