David B. Dill

23rd APS President (1950-1951)
David B. Dill
(1891-1986)

David Bruce Dill succeeded to the office of president after the death of Henry Cuthbert Bazett and served the remainder of the term; he presided at the fall meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in 1950 and the spring meeting in Cleveland in 1951. He had previously served as treasurer (1947-48) and for two years as a member of Council before his election as president elect.

Dill was born in Kansas, but after the death of his parents he was raised from an early age by relatives, first in Iowa and then in Santa Ana, California. He received his B.S. degree from Occidental College in California in 1913 and an M.A. degree from Stanford University in 1914. After teaching chemistry in high schools in California for two years, he was employed by the Bureau of Chemistry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, from 1916 to 1923. He returned to Stanford in 1923 as a fellow in chemistry and received the Ph.D. degree in 1925. He then went to Harvard University as a National Research Council Fellow to work with L. J. Henderson.

In 1927 he became one of the founding faculty of the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory in the School of Public Health, with which he was associated until 1947. Dill was elected to membership in APS in 1941. During World War II he served first with the U.S. Army Air Corps and later with the Quartermaster Corps, which awarded him the Legion of Merit. In 1947, with the discontinuance of the Fatigue Laboratory, he accepted appointment as scientific director of the Medical Division of the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Maryland. After his retirement from this position in 1961 he held research professorships at the University of Indiana and the University of Nevada.

During his APS presidency he proposed the establishment of the president elect's tour, which became a Society tradition. Eugene Landis, his successor as president elect, began the practice by visiting a number of institutions, lecturing and exchanging views with their physiologists and administration. Dill also completed the activities of the Committee on Scientific Aid, which had been begun by Bazett and carried on by Walter Root. One of his most lasting contributions to the Society is the Senior Physiologists Committee, which he initiated in 1951 and chaired until 1980.

Throughout his career, Dill made contributions in the fields of exercise and environmental physiology. In the process, he led expeditions to high-altitude, tropical, and desert environments to study the effects of environmental extremes under natural as well as laboratory conditions. He continued his research in the Nevada desert to the age of ninety-five. At the 1986 Spring Meeting of the Society in St. Louis, a report of his research on aerobic capacity and aging was presented, and at the business meeting he received from President Howard Morgan the Society's Ray G. Daggs Award.

Selected Publications

1. Bean, E. Dr. D. B. Dill. Physiologist 17: 449-450, 1974.

2. Fenn, W. O. History of the American Physiological Society: The Third Quarter Century, 1937-1962. Washington, DC: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1963, p. 21-23.

3. Horvath, E. C., and S. M. Horvath. David Bruce Dill. Physiologist 22(2): 1-2, 1979.