History of the American Physiological Society

American Physiological Society (APS)

The American Physiological Society(APS) was founded in 1887 with 28 members. Of them, 21 were graduates of medical schools, but only 12 had studied in schools that had a professor of physiology. Today, the APS has about 11,000 members, most of whom hold doctoral degrees in medicine, physiology or other health professions. APS's mission then, as now, is to support research, education, and distribution of information in the physiological sciences.

The American Physiological Society was founded at a time when very few physiological laboratories existed in America and there were few investigators. The newly established society was one of the earliest national disciplinary societies in the sciences, the first society in the biomedical sciences, and the first to require its members to publish original research. The stated object of the Society was to promote the advancement of physiology and to facilitate discourse among American physiologists. Even in 1887 there was a conscious effort to ensure representation of all areas within physiology, encompassing topics as diverse as neurology, psychology, ophthalmology, pathology and therapeutics, as well as plant physiology and animal biology. Today there are a variety of membership categories for those at all interest levels and ages.

Nobel Prizes for Physiology

Since it was founded in 1887, the APS has had 84 presidents lead the organization, beginning with founder Henry Bowditch. During a similar period, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has recognized scientists in the field of physiology by awarding the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The first physiologist to receive the award was the Russian Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, who won the coveted award in 1904 "in recognition of his work on the physiology of digestion, through which knowledge on vital aspects of the subject has been transformed and enlarged."

Americans first won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1934. It was for a dazzling cure based on luck and error. Harvard clinicians George R. Minot and William P. Murphy joined George Whipple, a Rochester pathologist and, using the wrong animal model, found a cure for pernicious anemia. Since then, an additional 29 physiologists, 7 of whom were American physiologists, have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on 24 distinct achievements in the field.

APS History

The first regular meeting of the APS at which papers and demonstrations were presented was held in Washington, DC, in September 1888 in conjunction with the newly formed Congress of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The first 25 years of the APS’s existence were dedicated to the organized effort to advance teaching and research via mutual cooperation. These efforts resulted in a comprehensive textbook of physiology, authored by 10 members of the APS, as well as the first publication of the American Journal of Physiology in 1898.

Over the next 25 years, physiology became an established profession. Full-time physiologists were at last considered important members of the faculty of medical schools and biology departments, and both teaching and research became standard and traditional occupations for physiologists.

Throughout the mid-1900s, there was remarkable expansion within the field of physiology, and especially in research. Research topics expanded along with new types of affordable equipment and research results were expected of every teacher and graduate student.

Since the 1960s, there has been increasingly deep specialization in research and teaching. For example, instead of being recognized as a physiologist, an individual was recognized as a neurophysiologist or vascular physiologist.

APS Peer-Reviewed Journals

The American Physiological Society publishes both journals and books as a nonprofit publisher. APS publications are among the most respected and frequently cited in the world.There are 12 scholarly, peer-reviewed journals covering specialized aspects of physiology. APS publishes some 3,800 original peer-reviewed articles annually, totaling approximately 40,000 pages per year.

The American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology is dedicated to innovative approaches to the study of cell and molecular physiology. Contributions that use cellular and molecular approaches to shed light on mechanisms of physiological control at higher levels of organization also appear regularly.

The American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism publishes original, mechanistic studies on the physiology of endocrine and metabolic systems. Molecular, subcellular and cellular studies in whole animals or humans; and novel molecular, immunological or biophysical studies of hormone action are also featured.

The American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology publishes original articles pertaining to all aspects of research involving normal or abnormal function of the gastrointestinal tract, hepatobiliary system and pancreas.

The American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology focuses on the physiology of the heart, blood vessels and lymphatics, including experimental and theoretical studies of cardiovascular function at all levels of organization ranging from the intact animal to the cellular, subcellular and molecular levels.

The American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology covers the broad scope of molecular, cellular and integrative aspects of normal and abnormal function of cells and components of the respiratory system. Articles pertaining to translational physiology, bridging the gap between physiology and patient care, also appear in this journal.

The American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology highlights normal or abnormal regulation and integration of physiological mechanism at all levels of biological organizations, ranging from molecules to humans. Major areas of emphasis include regulation in genetically modified animals, the use of model organisms and comparative functional genomics. Papers on regulation, integration and homeostasis in health and disease are the focus of this journal.

The American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology is dedicated to a broad range of subjects relating to the kidney, urinary tract, and their respective cells and vasculature, as well as the control of body fluid volume and composition. Papers on the pathophysiological basis of diseases processes of these organs, and regulation of body fluids appear regularly.

The American Journal of Physiology – Consolidated comprises the seven highly regarded Journals of the American Physiological Society: AJP-Cell Physiology; AJP-Endocrinology and Metabolism, AJP-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology; AJP-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology; AJP-Heart and Circulatory Physiology; AJP-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology and AJP-Renal Physiology.

Physiological Genomics publishes the results of a wide variety of experimental and computational studies from human and model systems to link genes and pathways to physiological functions.

The Journal of Applied Physiology deals with diverse areas of research in applied physiology, especially adaptive and integrative mechanisms.

The Journal of Neurophysiology includes articles on all levels of function of the nervous system, from the membrane and cell to systems and behavior.

Physiological Reviews provides state of the art coverage of timely issues in the physiological and biomedical sciences. Topics are covered in a broad and comprehensive manner, and the articles are very useful in teaching and research, as they provide clearly written updates on important new developments.

Physiology publishes invited review articles written by leaders in their fields. The journal also publishes shorter articles that present important emerging topics and technologies or differing points of view. It also highlights and summarizes some of the most exciting new papers in physiology.

Advances in Physiology Education promotes and disseminates educational scholarship in order to enhance teaching and learning of physiology, neuroscience and pathophysiology. It includes peer-reviewed descriptions of innovations that improve teaching in the classroom and laboratory, essays on education, and review articles based on our current understanding of physiological mechanisms.