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Gain global perspectives and
advance your career in medicine

UNCG-Università di Padova Evolutionary Medicine and Paleopathology Field School

BIO 466 (6 credit hours)

June 20-July 15, 2024 in Venice and Padua, Italy

$4765 program fee: tuition, fees, lodging, in-country transportation, field trips, tickets, and some meals

Not included: Airfare, most meals, and spending money ($2500-3000)

Learn about the history of medicine, ethical issues in human anatomy, paleopathology, and evolutionary medicine at the University of Padua, the #1 ranked university in Italy and the oldest top 10 University in Europe. We will visit historical sites pertinent to the history of western medicine, ethical issues in dissection and the acquisition of anatomical knowledge, and the ramifications of this history for public health to this day. We will study evolutionary and biocultural perspectives on infectious disease. We will spend one week in the classroom (40 hours) learning human skeletal anatomy and variation and then two weeks in the lab doing research on skeletal pathology. Learn more about Dr. Gwen Robbins Schug's research and read a book chapter authored by a student from the 2019 field school here. Syllabus and more information available on request.



The history of medicine has its foundation in northeastern Italy. Learn about Galen, Vasalius, Hunter and the origins of modern concepts of health, disease, and mental illness. Visit La Scuola Grande Medical Museum, the University of Padua Pathology Museum, and Palazzo Bo--the anatomical theater where Vesalius performed his dissections. We will focus on ethics and how we can build an anti-racist and more just future for health care through an awareness of our history and a goal of reparations for past wrongs.



Evolutionary theory is a deeply valuable framework for understanding human diseases and environmental health. We will travel to Lazaretto Nuovo and Lazaretto Vecchio, where the quarantine concept was invented. We will study the history of The Black Death, Syphilis, Leprosy, and Tuberculosis in Venice and how disease spillover is connected to biocultural factors, culture contact, and social organization. We will study the evolution and genetics of these pathogens, the impact of infection on the body, and the natural history of these re-emerging diseases.



We will learn human osteology, paleopathology of infectious diseases, and how skeletal and genetic data can converge. We will work with skeletons from a tuberculosis hospital and an insane asylum to re-personalize and tell the story of marginalized people. These people were caught in the socio-cultural, historical, and economic forces that drove an epidemic of mental illness in the 19th-20th centuries. Their remains tell the story of what it means to be ill and inconvenient in modernity.   

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