4 Field Colloquium: "To Siberia and Beyond: Studying Human Biology and Health at the Edge of the World"
In this talk, I will present results from an international collaborative research project (The Indigenous Siberian Health and Adaptation Project; http://www.bonesandbehavior.org/siberia.html) that focuses on human biology and health among native groups in northeastern Russia. First, I will discuss results of our work on human physiological adaptation to circumpolar environments, which has tested the hypothesis that human groups native to the cold have elevated resting metabolic rates as a result of chronic cold stress. Second, I will discuss how social and economic changes among native Siberians contribute to the relatively high burden of cardiovascular and metabolic disease that has emerged among indigenous Siberians in the past decade. This research has led to the conclusion that the distinctive set of health changes experienced by indigenous Siberians in the context of economic development (i.e., extremely high blood pressure levels, moderate obesity, and relatively favorable blood lipids) reflects the combination of: 1) the distinctive social and political history of Native Siberians, and 2) biological adaptation to the circumpolar environment.