• Amy M. Boddy

    University of California, Santa Barbara

  • news

    Undergraduate volunteers!!

    Students Kenna & Sydney are volunteers at the Santa Barbara zoo this summer!!!

    Primate Brain Size & Comparative Genomics

    Tests for positive selection in large-brained primates

    New paper out in Genome Biology and Evolution w/ Stephen MontgomeryPeter W Harrison, et al. Including a newly sequenced brain transcriptome of the capuchin monkey (Cebus apella).

    Cancer Comparative Genomics

    How has evolution solved the problem of cancer suppression?

    See our new review on what we currently know and do not know about cancer suppressor mechanisms in animals w/ Marc Tollis and Josh Schiffman.

    Contextual Organismality

    Check out new paper in Evolution

    What is an organism? Here we propose the concept of contextual organismality w/ Sam Díaz-Muñoz, Chris Waters, Gautam Dantas, and Judie Bronstein.

  • research

    My research focuses broadly on evolutionary applications to human health and disease. My work is motivated by fundamental questions in life history theory. I use a combination of genomics, computational biology and evolutionary theory to help understand trade-offs between survival and reproduction across different levels of biological organization, from molecules to organisms and everything in between.

    Fetal Microchimerism

    An evolutionary perspective on maternal health and disease

    Previous literature paints a paradoxical picture on fetal cell’s influence on the maternal body. Our recent review on fetal microchimerism and maternal health/disease proposes numerous predictions on why we see this paradoxical effect. Through an evolutionary lens, the ecological context (each mothers body) is important for determining whether fetal cells may contribute to maternal health or disease. Drawing from this theory, we can now design more informed hypothesis driven experiments to explicitly test functional, regulatory and genetic dynamics of maternal-fetal interactions.

    Cellular Trade-offs

    Trade-offs between cellular proliferation and survival in cancer progression and treatment

    Can organismal life history theory can be applied at the cellular level? Are there distinct cellular populations that invest in proliferation, at the expense of survival? I am using life history theory, agent-based modeling and genomic techniques to 1) help understand why we see this diversity of phenotypes in cancer, 2) provide a new perspective in treatment design and 3) understand the molecular processes underpinning cellular trade-offs.

    Trade-offs in Cancer Defense

    Exploring the diversity in cancer susceptibility

    Cancer suppression is a major component of somatic maintenance, including DNA repair, cell cycle control and immune function. There is likely trade-offs between growth, reproduction and cancer defenses. My research aims to 1) understand the trade-offs between reproduction and cancer defenses and 2) uncover the molecular drivers facilitating this diversity in cancer susceptibility.

    Molecular Evolution and Transcriptomics

    Using comparative genomics to examine patterns of parallel evolution

    Brain expansion is a key characteristic of primate and human evolution. Uncovering the molecular basis of human brain evolution may identify ways in which our own species is unique. Whether adaptations governing brain expansion are shared across primates or have a species-specific origin is unclear. To provide insight into pathways and processes important in brain size evolution, we are analyzing patterns of molecular evolution across independent episodes of brain size increase during anthropoid primate evolution.

  • members

    We are currently recruiting postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. If interested, please email Dr. Boddy: boddy(at)anth.ucsb.edu

    Kenna Sherman

    Undergraduate Researcher

    I am passionate about behavioral neuroscience and genetics. Specifically, I am interested in mental illness and using genomics to find cures for complex diseases such as cancer. I expect to graduate in June 2021.

    Sydney Collier

    Undergraduate Researcher

    I am interested in evolution and genetics. I am specifically interested in how we can use genetics and evolutionary theory to find cures for medical diseases. I expect to graduate in 2020.

  • publications

    Link to my google scholar page here.


    Understanding cooperation through fitness interdependence | PDF

    A Aktipis, L Cronk, J Alcock, JD Ayers, C Baciu, D Balliet, AM Boddy, OS Curry, JA Krems JA, A Muñoz, D Sullivan.

    Nature Human Behaviour. 2018 Jul;2(7):429.


    Classifying the evolutionary and ecological features of neoplasms? | PDF

    CC Maley, A Aktipis, TA Graham, A Sottoriva, AM Boddy, M Janiszewska, AS Silva, M Gerlinger, Y Yuan, KJ Pienta, KS Anderson, R Gatenby, C Swanton, D Posada, C Wu, JD Schiffman, ES Hwang, K Polyak, ARA Anderson, JS Brown, M Greaves, D Shibata

    Nature Reviews Cancer. 2017


    Peto’s Paradox: how has evolution solved the problem of cancer prevention? | PDF

    M Tollis, AM Boddy, CC Maley

    BMC biology 15 (1), 60. 2017


    Evidence of a Conserved Molecular Response to Selection for Increased Brain Size in Primates | PDF

    AM Boddy*, PW Harrison*, SH Montgomery*, JA Caravas, MA Raghanti, KA Phillips, NI Mundy, DE Wildman

    Genome biology and evolution 9 (3). 2017 | * contributed equally


    Evolution of cancer suppression as revealed by mammalian comparative genomics | PDF

    M Tollis, JD Schiffman, AM Boddy

    Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 42, 40-47. 2017


    Evolution of Cancer Defense Mechanisms Across Species

    VK Harris, JD Schiffman, AM Boddy

    Ecology and Evolution of Cancer. Elsevier. 2017


    Natural Selection in Cancer Biology: From Molecular Snowflakes to Trait Hallmarks | PDF

    A Fortunato, AM Boddy, D Mallo, A Aktipis, CC Maley, JW Pepper

    Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine 7 (2), a029652. 2017


    Contextual organismality: Beyond pattern to process in the emergence of organisms | PDF

    SL Díaz‐Muñoz, AM Boddy, G Dantas, CM Waters, JL Bronstein

    Evolution 70 (12), 2669-2677. 2016


    When (distant) relatives stay too long: implications for cancer medicinePDF

    D Chowell, AM Boddy, D Mallo, M Tollis, CC Maley

    Genome biology 17 (1), 34. 2016


    Is estrogen receptor negative breast cancer risk associated with a fast life history strategy? | PDF

    BH Hidaka, AM Boddy

    Evolution, medicine, and public health (1), 17-20. 2016


    Fetal microchimerism and maternal health: A review and evolutionary analysis of cooperation and conflict beyond the womb | PDF

    AM Boddy, A Fortunato, M Wilson Sayres, A Aktipis

    BioEssays 37 (10), 1106-1118. 2015


    Cancer across the tree of life: cooperation and cheating in multicellularity | PDF

    CA Aktipis, AM Boddy, G Jansen, U Hibner, ME Hochberg, CC Maley, GS Wilkinson

    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 370 (1673), 20140219. 2015


    Cancer susceptibility and reproductive trade-offs: a model of the evolution of cancer defences | PDF

    AM Boddy, H Kokko, F Breden, GS Wilkinson, CA Aktipis

    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 370 (1673), 20140220. 2015


    Life history tradeoffs in cancer evolution | PDF

    CA Aktipis, AM Boddy, RA Gatenby, JS Brown, CC Maley

    Nature Reviews. Cancer 13 (12), 883. 2013


    Characterization of human cortical gene expression in relation to glucose utilization | PDF

    KN Sterner, MR Mcgowen, HT Chugani, AL Tarca, CC Sherwood, PR Hof, CW Kuzawa, AM Boddy, RL Raaum, A Weckle, L Lipovich, LI Grossman, M Uddin, M Goodman, DE Wildman

    American Journal of Human Biology 25 (3), 418-430. 2013


    Dynamic gene expression in the human cerebral cortex distinguishes children from adults | PDF

    KN Sterner, A Weckle, HT Chugani, AL Tarca, CC Sherwood, PR Hof, CW Kuzawa, AM Boddy, A Abbas, RL Raaum, L Grégoire, L Lipovich, LI Grossman, M Uddin, M Goodman, DE Wildman

    PloS one 7 (5), e37714. 2012


    Comparative analysis of encephalization in mammals reveals relaxed constraints on anthropoid primate and cetacean brain scaling | PDF

    AM Boddy, MR McGowen, CC Sherwood, LI Grossman, M Goodman, DE Wildman

    Journal of evolutionary biology 25 (5), 981-994. 2012


    Role of complement cascade in abdominal aortic aneurysms | PDF

    I Hinterseher, R Erdman, LA Donoso, TR Vrabec, CM Schworer, JH Lillvis, AM Boddy, K Derr, A Golden, WD Bowen, Z Gatalica, N Tapinos, JR Elmore, DP Franklin, JL Gray, RP Garvin, GS Gerhard, DJ Carey, G Tromp, H Kuivaniemi

    Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology 31 (7), 1653-1660. 2011


    Inhibitory interneurons of the human prefrontal cortex display conserved evolution of the phenotype and related genes | PDF

    CC Sherwood, MA Raghanti, CD Stimpson, MA Spocter, M Uddin, AM Boddy, DE Wildman, CJ Bonar, AH Lewandowski, KA Phillips, JM Erwin, PR Hof

    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 277. 1684. 2010


    Abdominal aortic aneurysms-a complex genetic disease

    J Nischan, GM Lenk, AM Boddy, JH Lillvis, G Tromp, H Kuivaniemi

    Aneurysms: Types, Risks, Formation and Treatment, Nova Science Publishers. 35-93. 2010


    Identification of a genetic variant associated with abdominal aortic aneurysms on chromosome 3p12. 3 by genome wide association | PDF

    JR Elmore, MA Obmann, H Kuivaniemi, G Tromp, GS Gerhard, DP Franklin, AM Boddy, DJ Carey

    Journal of Vascular Surgery 49 (6), 1525-1531. 2009


    Basic research studies to understand aneurysm disease | PDF

    AM Boddy, GM Lenk, JH Lillvis, J Nischan, Y Kyo, H Kuivaniemi

    Drug News Perspect 21 (3), 142-148. 2008


    Abdominal aortic aneurysms are deep, deadly and genetic

    H Kuivaniemi, AM Boddy, JH Lillvis, J Nischan, GM Lenk, G Tromp

    Aortic aneurysms, new insights into an old problem, 299-323. 2008

  • press

    Microchimerism discussed in Aeon

    Fetal microchimerism covered in the New York Times

    By Carl Zimmer

    Fetal microchimerism covered on NatGeo

    By Ed Yong

    Fetal microchimerism covered on NPR

    on Morning Edition

    Fetal microchimerism covered in the Smithsonian

    By Viviane Callier

    Cancer across life covered in the New York Times

    By George Johnson

    Cancer across life & Folsom Prison Blues

    By Tom @ Science x Rhymes

  • videos

    Cooperation & conflict in maternal health

    ASU Cooperation & Conflict Symposium

    See Dr. Boddy present work on microchimerism and maternal-fetal conflict

    Super Chimera

    Check out the video abstract for our microchimerism review in BioEssays

    Are there trade-offs in cancer defense?

    Video of Dr. Boddy's ISEMPH 2015 presentation

    See Dr. Boddy present her work on why some species may vary in cancer defense mechanisms.

  • about

    Amy M. Boddy


    Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Wayne State University - School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan.

  • teaching

    Fall 2018

    ANTH 177AB Human Reproductive Ecology and Endocrinology

    This course will discuss the regulation of reproductive function in humans by diet, energy balance, lactation, and social context. We will focus on the role of hormones in the regulation of human reproduction, behavior, and physiology. The curriculum will follow hormonal changes during the human life course, including puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, parenting and menopause.

    Spring 2018

    Anth 9 Human Behavioral Sciences Methods Lab

    The goal of this course is to introduce students to the design and analysis of scientific studies of behavior. The emphasis in the class is on theory-based testing of workable hypotheses, with examples drawn from human evolutionary ecology and human biology. Classes are structured around methods of data collection and analysis. Students are introduced to a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, from observational and survey-based studies of behavior to experiments. Classes are held in a computer laboratory, where students use database and statistical software to organize and analyze real data.

    Winter 2018

    Anth 171 Evolutionary Medicine

    This course is designed to introduce applications of evolutionary biology to medicine. Topics ranging from the evolution of antibiotic resistance, to aging, obesity, complications in pregnancy and cancer. These topics will be discussed using an evolutionary framework to better understand how these diseases/issues came to be, and what can be done to prevent/treat/mitigate these conditions.

  • contact