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Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology
Thomas McDade

Areas of Interest
Biocultural perspectives on health and human development; human biology; stress and adaptation; immune function; evolutionary medicine; evolutionary ecology; infectious disease; breastfeeding; medical anthropology

Current projects
Culture change, stress, and immune function in Western Samoan youth

This study attempts to introduce a cross-cultural and developmental perspective to studies of stress and immune function. Blood spot measures of cortisol and EBV antibodies provide physiological markers of psychosocial stress, and CRP levels control for pathogen burden. I consider multiple ecological and incongruity models of stress that unpack the meaning of "culture change" in the Samoan context.

Development and validation of blood spot markers of immune function

While working closely with Joy Stallings and Carol Worthman, we have developed minimally invasive blood spot measures of cell-mediated immunity (antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus) and inflammatory status (C-reactive protein) for use in field settings. These assays are in the final stages of validation. Future assays will measure iron sequestration and thymic hormone levels.

Anemia, immune function, and infectious morbidity in northern Kenya

In collaboration with Bettina Shell-Duncan (U Washington), we are exploring anemia as a potentially adaptive response to infectious disease. Blood spot measures of CRP and ferritin will allow us to differentiate iron deficiency anemia from anemia of chronic disease, an important distinction that previous work in this area often fails to make. Data will be collected among the Rendille (a group of formerly nomadic pastoralists) in the summer of 1999.

in press McDade, T.W. & C.M. Worthman. Evolutionary process and the ecology of human immune function. American Journal of Human Biology.
in press McDade, T.W. Book review: Rickettsial Infection and Immunity, Anderson, B., Friedman, H. and Bendinelli, M. (eds.). Quarterly Review of Biology.
1998 Barrett, R.L., Kuzawa, C., McDade, T.W. & G.J. Armelagos. Evolution, emerging infections, and the third epidemiologic transition. Annual Review of Anthropology.
1998 McDade, T.W. & C.M. Worthman. The weanling's dilemma reconsidered: A biocultural analysis of breastfeeding ecology. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 19(4): 286-299.
1996 McDade, T.W. Boiling energy, fire handling, the placebo effect and premenstrual tension: Case studies of the biocultural implications of altered states. Culture and Mind, Graduate essays in psychological anthropology 1: 8-20.
1996 McDade, T.W. Prostates and profits: The social construction of benign prostatic hyperplasia in American men. Medical Anthropology 17(1): 1-22.
in preparation McDade, T.W. & C.M. Worthman. Socialization ambiguity, stress, and immune function in Western Samoan youth: Towards a cross-cultural psychoneuroimmunology. For submission to Child Development.
in preparation McDade, T.W., Stallings, J.F. and C.M. Worthman. Culture change and stress in Western Samoan youth: Methodological issues in the cross-cultural study of stress and immune function. For submission to American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
in preparation Shell-Duncan, B. & T.W. McDade. Immunology and anthropology: Current challenges and future directions. For submission to Yearbook of Physical Anthropology.

1998 McDade, T.W., Shell-Duncan, B., Worthman, C.M. and J.F. Stallings. Methodological and conceptual issues in field studies of cell-mediated immune function. American Journal of Human Biology 10(1): 131.
1997 McDade, T.W. Evolutionary process and the ecology of human immune function. American Journal of Human Biology 9(1): 138.
1997 McDade, T.W., Stallings, J.F., & C.M. Worthman. Psychosocial stress and cell-mediated immune function: Validation of a blood spot method for Epstein-Barr virus antibodies. American Journal of Physical Anthropology Suppl 24: 164-165.
1996 McDade, T.W., Worthman, C.M., Rilling, J.K., Stallings, J.F., & A. Angold. Stress, gender, depression and immune function in American adolescents. American Journal of Physical Anthropology Suppl 22: 162.
1996 Worthman, C.M. & T.W. McDade. Anthropology meets immunology: A developmental-adaptationist model of immunocompetence. American Journal of Physical Anthropology Suppl 22: 247-248.
1995 McDade, T.W., Angold, A., Costello, E.J., Stallings, J.F., & C.M. Worthman. Physiologic bases of individual variation in pubertal timing and progression: A report from the Great Smoky Mountain Study. American Journal of Physical Anthropology Suppl 20: 148.

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Last Updated January 6, 1999