Carl J. Wiggers

21st APS President (1949-1950)
Carl J. Wiggers

Carl J. Wiggers became president of the Society in 1949, after what must be a record of earlier service to APS: four terms on the Council (1920-23, 1927-30, 1941-42, and 1948-51). In the interim he was elected to the offices of treasurer (1941) and secretary (1942), which resulted in the brief duration of his third Council term. He was also a member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of Physiology from 1933 to 1941.

Wiggers was born in Davenport, Iowa, and received the M.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1906. He became a member of APS in 1907. After five years as an instructor at Michigan, a year of which was spent in the Physiologisches Institut at Munich, he joined Graham Lusks department at Cornell Medical School in 1911. In 1917 he became professor and director of the Department of Physiology at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He retired from Western Reserve in 1953.

Wigger's substantial contributions to cardiovascular physiology were almost overshadowed by his teaching and leadership qualities; he personally supervised the training of over thirty-eight future department heads and research directors in prestigious institutions. He authored several texts in circulatory physiology: Circulation in Health and Disease (1915), Pressure Pulses in the Cardiovascular System (1928), Physiology of Shock (1950), Circulatory Dynamics (1952), and Circulation in Health and Disease (first edition, 1934). In 1952 he founded Circulation Research of which he was editor for five years. Wiggers received many honors in recognition of his scientific achievements, including several honorary doctorates, the Gold Heart Award of the American Heart Association, and the Albert Lasker Award.

A listing of Carl Wiggers' contributions to APS would be incomplete without reference to his founding of the Circulation Group, which is now still active as the Cardiovascular Section. The highest honor of the section is the Carl Wiggers Award, an annual invited lecture. Many of Wigger's former associates and students have become APS presidents, including Louis Katz, Robert Berne, Ewald Selkurt, and Walter Randall.

Selected Publications

1. Fenn, W. O. History of the American Physiological Society: The Third Quarter Century, 1937-1962. Washington, DC: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1963, p. 18-20.

2. Landis, E. M. Carl John Wiggers, May 28, 1883 - April 29, 1963. Biogr. Mem. Natl. Acad. Sci. 18: 363-397, 1976.

3. Randall, W. C. Carl J. Wiggers. Physiologist 21(3): 1-5, 1978.

4. Wiggers, C. J. Prefatory chapter: physiology from 1900 to 1920: incidents, accidents and advances. Annu. Rev. Physiol. 13: 1-20, 1951.

5. Wiggers, C. J. Reminiscences and Adventures in Circulation Research. New York: Grune and Stratton, 1958.