The immune system never ceases to change – it must stay one step ahead of the next disease outbreak or else. When a disease evolves even slightly, our immune system needs to adapt to match this change. As such, we have variation in our immune genes that is vastly out of proportion to the variation in our other genes. For example, if our eye color had the same diversity as our immune systems, we could have hundreds of different possible colors instead of fewer than five. However, this arms race with pathogens can rage so intensely that the normal mechanisms of evolution cannot keep up with demand for change. So where does our exceptional genetic diversity come from? We will discuss how ancient DNA and natural selection shape our immune responses, from pathogens to pregnancy.
C2ST Speakeasy will be held on the first Tuesday of each month at Geek Bar Chicago for the foreseeable future. Registraion is not required, but it is encouraged.