Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine “Catalysis Meeting”: Biodiversity, Conservation and Infectious Disease

On May 4-6, 2015, the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM), the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the Duke Tropical Conservation Initiative (DTCI) will be hosting a Catalysis Meeting on “Biodiversity, Conservation and Infectious Disease.” The organizers are Charles Nunn, Hillary Young, Gavin Smith and Jeffrey Vincent.

The goal of the meeting is to understand how changes in biodiversity impact infectious disease risk in humans and wildlife. Remarkably little effort has synthesized either theory or data on the efficacy of biodiversity and conservation practices as a disease management strategy, the effects of different anthropogenic changes on infectious disease risk in the tropics, or the impacts of different conservation strategies on human health. We will take a broad view on this important issue by examining the many potential links between changes in biodiversity and infectious disease risk, and by considering the diversity of ways to investigate these questions using empirical and theoretical approaches. We will also engage with the conflicting views that natural systems appear to buffer some disease risks, yet they can also serve as the source of new infectious diseases.

The meeting will be composed of approximately 10 researchers from Research Triangle universities (Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, and NC Central), with another 25 participants from outside the Triangle. All travel expenses will be covered for non-Triangle participants, and meeting-associated meals covered for all participants. In building the participant list, we seek a wide range of interests, approaches, and experience levels. Thus, we welcome modeling approaches, field biologists, and those with expertise in meta-analysis, and graduate students, postdocs, and faculty. At the meeting, we will work toward specific outputs, which will include a special “theme” issue in a high-impact journal that synthesizes diverse views on this important topic, and development of future working groups to investigate specific questions in greater depth.

For those wishing to participate in the Catalysis Meeting – including scientists from the Research Triangle Universities – we ask that you fill out a brief application at this link: We will begin inviting participants after March 14.

For questions, please contact Charles Nunn at