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Randolph Nesse

Sols Administration & Faculty
Mail Code: 4501


Randolph M. Nesse is Professor of Life Sciences and ASU Foundation Professor at Arizona State University, where he moved in 2014 to become the Founding Director of the Center for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health.  He was previously a Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology at the University of Michigan where he directed the Evolution and Human Adaptatin Program, and helped to found one of the world’s first Anxiety Disorders Clinics.  His early research on the neuroendocrinology of anxiety evolved into studies on the origins of senescence that led to a deep commitment to evolutionary applications in medicine. He collaborated with George Williams on the book Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine (1995). He is Executive Editor of The Evolution and Medicine Review, and President of the Foundation for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health. Dr. Nesse's primary current research focus is on how selection shapes mechanisms that regulate defenses such as pain, fever, anxiety and low mood. Closely related is his work on how runaway social selection can shape human capacities for altruism, empathy, and complex sociality that are otherwise difficult to explain. Dr. Nesse’s main mission is to establish evolutionary biology as a basic science for medicine, worldwide. He is eager to make contact with physicians and researchers who share these interests.

Research Interests

Evolutionary applications to medicine and public health.

Signal detection theory applied to the evolution of mechanisms that regulate defense expression.

Th eevolutionary functions and regualtion of emotions, especially negative emotions.

The origins of altruism, especially via social selection. 


Fall 2015

Courses Taught This Semester
Course Number Course Title
ASM 790 Reading and Conference

Spring 2015

Courses Taught This Semester
Course Number Course Title
ASM 590 Reading and Conference
ASM 591 Seminar
BIO 495 Undergraduate Research
BIO 591 Seminar

Fall 2014

Courses Taught This Semester
Course Number Course Title
ASM 494 Special Topics
ASM 591 Seminar
ASM 790 Reading and Conference
BIO 494 Special Topics
BIO 591 Seminar
PSY 494 Special Topics

Publications and Other Intellectual ContributionsGoogle Scholar

  1. Fried, E. I., & Nesse, R. M.. Depression is not a consistent syndrome: An investigation of unique symptom patterns in the STAR* D study. Journal of affective disorders (2015).

  2. Carr D, Sonnega J, Nesse RM, House JS.. Do Special Occasions Trigger Psychological Distress among Older Bereaved Spouses? An Empirical Assessment of Clinical Wisdom.. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 69 (1), 113-122, 2014. (2014).

  3. Fried, E. I., & Nesse, R. M. The Impact of Individual Depressive Symptoms on Impairment of Psychosocial Functioning.. PLoS ONE, 9(2), e90311, 2014 (2014).

  4. Fried, E. I., Nesse, R. M., Zivin, K., Guille, C., & Sen, S.. Depression is more than the sum score of its parts: individual DSM symptoms have different risk factors.. Psychological Medicine, 44(10), 2067-2076, 2014. (2014).

  5. Nesse, RM. Comment: A General ''Theory of Emotion'' Is Neither Necessary nor Possible. Emotion Review (2014).

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  1. George C Williams Prize, Organizer (2015 - present)
  2. Center for Evolution and Medicine, Director (2014 - present)
  3. Omenn Prize, Organizer (2013 - present)
  4. International Society for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health, Founding President (2012 - present)
  5. The Evolution and Medicine Review, Editor (2007 - present)

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Curriculum Vitae / Resume

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