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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

2nd Meeting of the 188th Session (2008-2009)

"Human Evolution and Modern Medicine"

Professor David Purdie MD   FRCP Edin.   FSA Scot

In the Augustine United Church
41 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
On Monday 10 November 2008, at 7pm

This is the field of Science which integrates clinical medicine with evolutionary biology, and which examines contemporary health and disease in the light of our anatomy and physiology. Homo sapiens evolved by Darwinian natural selection originally upon the Eastern division of the Great Rift Valley system in Africa. The European peoples, descended from migrants from Africa, thereafter had to adapt, over the past 100,000 years , to life in the higher latitudes. Our basic anatomical structure and functional design, together with the mutations required by our trans-continental migrations, have consequences to this day for our physical welfare and safety.

Understanding human evolutionary design helps medical researchers understand phenomena such as ; infections, allergy, problems during childbirth and, most importantly today the problems of aging far beyond our original design specifications.

This presentation will concentrate on evolution and the major public health problem of Osteoporosis, the prevalent brittle bone disease which now costs the NHS some £2.4Bn. per annum and costs considerable suffering and disablement to those who sustain the height loss and fractures which it brings in its train.

David Purdie is a Doctor of Medicine , a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He was educated at Ayr Academy and the University of Glasgow where he graduated in Medicine.

After junior Hospital appointments and a year at sea with the Royal Naval Reserve, he followed a medical academic and research career ; first as Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, then as Senior Lecturer at Leeds University and latterly Professor and Postgraduate Dean of the new medical School of Hull and York Universities.

His medical research work was in the field of Osteoporosis, the brittle bone disease, which was the subject of his MD Doctoral Thesis. On this subject he is also the author or co-author of some 60 original medical research papers. David Purdie retired from medical practice in 2007 but remains an Honorary Fellow of the University of Edinburgh and a medical adviser to the Department of Health and the Ministry of Defence.

He is a lecturer for The Classical Association on Greek & Latin rhetoric and a member of the Society for the History of Philosophy. He has a particular interest in the scientific and literary components 18th Century Scottish Enlightenment - and is Chairman of the Walter Scott Society of Edinburgh and a Patron of the National Gallery and the National Trust for Scotland.

Location of meeting

Society Business

The President, Robin Harper MSP, will be in the Chair

Members of the Public are welcome to attend

Jane Ridder-Patrick, Secretary
Telephone: 0131 556 2161

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