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The quality of our relationships with other people—both friendly and competitive—has a dramatic effect on our health. But how do our social lives get under the skin and actually translate into changes in our genes and immune systems? How can we be sure social relationships are important to our health, when there is so much about the modern human environment that has changed so rapidly?

Jenny Tung, CIFAR Fellow in the Child & Brain Development program and Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology at Duke University, addressed these questions in the sixth annual CIFAR Massey Talk. Her work studying baboons and macaques highlights both our deep evolutionary connections with other social species, and the critical importance of our connections with each other.