Alan C. Burton

29th APS President (1956-1957)
Alan C. Burton

Alan Chadburn Burton, a member of Council since 1953, was elected president elect in 1955 at the meeting in San Francisco and began service as president in 1956. He was the second Canadian to hold that office. (J. J. R. Macleod was president in 1921-22.)

Born in London, England, he received his B.Sc. degree from University College (London) in physics in 1925. His M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, also in physics, were from the University of Toronto (1929 and 1932). He held a series of fellowships from the National Research Council of Canada (1928-32), the University of Rochester (1932-34), the Rockefeller Foundation (1934-37), and the Johnson Foundation (1937-40). He was elected to APS in 1937. It was during his postdoctoral fellowships that he was attracted to physiology through his interest in skin temperature and heat exchange. This led him to wartime work in aviation medical research under assignment by the Canadian National Research Council. After the war, he joined the Department of Medical Research at the University of Western Ontario, where he became professor of biophysics in 1948.

In addition to the presidency of APS, Burton served as president of the Federation (1957-58) (of which he initiated a reorganization) and of the Canadian Physiological Society (1959), the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies (1963), and the Biophysical Society (1966).

During his president elect tour, Burton discussed changes in APS that he thought would prove necessary when the membership exceeded 3,000. (This number was reached in 1967.) Included in his proposals for change were the institution of several meetings per year similar to the APS fall meeting and a Society news publication. During his term, the decision was made to convert the "President's News Letter" into The Physiologist. The first issue contained Burton's past president's address, "The human side of the physiologist, prejudice and poetry," which included three of his original poems. Also during his term as president, the associate member category was approved by Council for submission to the membership.

Selected Publications

1. Burton, A. C. The human side of the physiologist, prejudice and poetry. Physiologist 1(1): 1-5, 1957.

2. Burton, A. C. Variety - the spice of science as well as of life: the disadvantages of specialization. Annu. Rev. Physiol. 37: 1-12, 1975.

3. Fenn, W. O. History of the American Physiological Society: The Third Quarter Century, 1937-1962. Washington, DC: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1963, p. 37-41.

4. Groom, A. C. Alan Chadburn Burton (1904-1979). Physiologist 23(1): 17-18, 1980.

5. Groom, A. C. Alan Chadburn Burton: biophysicist extraordinary. Physiologist 28: 66- 68, 1985.