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Institute of Evolutionary Medicine (IEM)


„Learning from the past for the present and the future.“

We are a leading international and globally connected research, teaching and service institute which is part of the medical faculty at the University of Zurich. We analyse ancient biological material and associated data to better understand modern human health issues and diseases. Due to specialist scientific expertise, excellent infrastructure and state-of-the-art methodologies, we are able to work on various interdisciplinary research questions in the context of the field of Evolutionary Medicine.

Our core competencies include:

  • In the area of morphology: Clinical Anatomy; Variability and adaptation of body morphology as a function of time (Microevolution), sex, robustness, socio-economic factors etc.; Macroevolution of joint morphology and -pathologies.
  • In the area of imaging: application of modern imaging techniques (MRI, terahertz) on historical tissues; Radiological diagnosis of pathologies.
  • In the area of ancient DNA: Co-evolution of diseases and the human genome (evolution of human pathogens, microbiome analyses etc.); Service for Archaeology/Historical Anthropology (paternity testing, sex determination).
  • Maintain a medical history object collection for the scientific community.
  • Ethical considerations for the research on historical human tissues.