Perspective: Bridging the Gap between Human Biology and Public Health

Alan D. Rogol

Professor, emeritus. Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Pediatrics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.


Citation: Rogol, A, (2021), Perspective: Bridging the Gap between Human Biology and Public Health, Human Biology and Public Health 1.

Received: 18-08-2020 | Accepted: 15-09-2020 | Published: 22-06-2021



Why a new journal in a field covered by so many other journals? This one, entitled Human Biology and Public Health, is proposed to include anthropology/human biology, but of living groups of persons. Thus, it will be unlike the “mainstream” anthropology journals that emphasize archeology, osteology and the fossil record. Once one makes the commitment to the living, the entire field of public health opens. That is where this journal will find its niche – the study and evaluation of living humans including the growth and maturation of children and the implications of these studies to the wider universe of public health, as noted in our initial cover design, depicting both human biology and public health.

Who might submit articles and/or read this new journal? I posit that the subjects would include both basic biology as well as day-to-day practical issues that could be published by physical anthropologists, public health professionals, pediatricians, psychologists, developmental biologists, among others. These investigators would have a place where their interests might overlap with others in their various fields, rather than a much more narrowly focused journal about an organ or organ system.

I could foresee articles that, for example, evaluate a population at one time and then return decades later to study the same population after some natural or imposed alteration in living conditions. Secular changes in size, e.g., attained height are population (genetic and epigenetic) and environment specific. Examples may be short-term exposures over a year or less such as the Dutch Hunger Winter where exposure to famine during gestation has lifelong effects on reproductive function and health, but these effects may vary depending on the timing of the in utero exposure as well as evolution of the recovery period (Kyle and Pichard 2006; Roseboom et al. 2001). Other cases could span several decades, for example, an indigenous, Zapotec-speaking community located near Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico (Malina et al. 2018). One might note how these new conditions may affect anthropometry, infectious disease, and chronic non-infectious (non-communicable) conditions such as, hypertension or coronary artery disease, even life extension itself.

There would be something for everyone with interest in biology, growth, and health of the living in this new journal. Such studies might even lead to social, economic, and political initiatives, as has recently happened in Chile with reference to the effects of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax (Cuadrado et al. 2020). I welcome your interest in this new journal and look forward to submission of your research papers.


Cuadrado, C./Dunstan, J./Silva-Illanes, N./Mirelman, A. J./Nakamura, R./Suhrcke, M. (2020). Effects of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax on prices and affordability of soft drinks in Chile: a time series analysis. Social Science & Medicine 245.

Kyle, U. G./Pichard, C. (2006). The Dutch Famine of 1944-1945: A pathophysiological model of long-term consequences of wasting disease. Critical Reviews in Toxicology 9 (4), 388–394.

Malina, R. M./Little, B. B./Peña Reyes, M. E. (2018). Secular trends are associated with the demographic and epidemiologic transitions in an indigenous community in Oaxaca, Southern Mexico. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 165 (1), 47–64.

Roseboom, T. J./van der Meulen, J. H. P./Ravelli, A. C. J./Osmond, C./Barker, D. J. P./Bleker, O. P. (2001). Effects of prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine on adult disease in later life: an overview. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 185 (1-2), 93–98.