UC San Diego Professor Compares Unborn Children to Cancer

8 week fetus in womb

A professor at the University of California San Diego compared unborn children to cancer in a slide presentation for an upper-level biology course on the “evolution of human disease.” In a slide presentation shared by a Stanford Medical student, the professor appears to describe a fetus as a “legitimate parasite” that “rapidly grows” and “invades” the mother.

The course, entitled “Evolution of Human Disease,” is taught by professor Pascal Gagneux at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, aiming to “explore the major epidemiological transitions from ape-like ancestors to foraging tribes, farmers and pastoralists, to the global metropolitan primate we now are. We will focus on how diseases have shaped humans and how humans have shaped disease over time.”

The professor’s class presentation went viral on social media after one Stanford Medical student, Dylan Griswold, tweeted an image of the slide appearing to compare unborn children to cancer. “No joke, a friend just sent me this slide from her upper-level biology course,” said Griswold, “I’m speechless.”

“Upper-level UCSD biology course says that a baby in the womb is ‘a legitimate parasite’ that ‘invades’ his/her mother, compares the baby to cancer,” said founder and president of Live Action Lisa Rose on Twitter, “Pregnancy is NOT a disease and a baby is not a parasite. This is dehumanizing & false. Is this the best CA public education can do?”

The slide in question shows an image of a fetus in the womb alongside the words, “The fetus: a legitimate parasite: rapidly grows, invades, manipulates immunity of mother, reshapes blood vessels.” Below that, is an image of cancer cells alongside the words, “The cancer: crashes the party!!! rapidly grows, invades, manipulates immunity, reshapes blood vessels.”

“Every human rights atrocity starts with dehumanization, with those in power refusing to acknowledge the humanity of others,” said Rose in a second tweet regarding the matter, “CA’s public university system TEACHES here that a helpless child in the womb is like ‘cancer’ that ‘invades,’ a ‘parasite.'”

According to a report by Campus Reform, the slide was supposedly meant to be an attempt to explain the tendency of humans and other mammals to develop cancer. The report adds that notes on the slide deck portray the comparison as a “practice question.”

Professor Pascal Gagneux did not immediately respond to Breitbart News’ request for comment and clarification.

Update — UC San Diego provided Breitbart News with the following statement:

This is a slide from ‘Evolution of Human Disease,’ an upper-level undergraduate Anthropology course at UC San Diego. It is from a lecture about cancer from an evolutionary perspective. The slide makes the point that mammals are especially prone to invasive cancers, in part because mammals evolved the ability to host fetuses and placentas.

Like all other cells in our bodies, cancer cells descend from fetal cells and share the same genome. This means that cancer cells can make use of the same genetic and molecular mechanisms that a fetus employs to grow, survive and avoid the human immune system.

A fetus shares only half of its genome with the mother, which opens the possibility of conflicts, immunologically and nutritionally. Therefore, a fetus requires unusual immune tolerance by the mother and may attempt to obtain more resources than is optimal for a mother to provide.

The slide presents common, widely accepted scientific concepts and in no way represents a political statement.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.


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