Hiram E. Essex

27th APS President (1954-1955)
Hiram E. Essex

Hiram Eli Essex became president of APS in July 1954. He presided at the 1954 fall meeting at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and at the 1955 spring meeting in San Francisco.

He was born in Glasford, Illinois, and received his B.S. degree from Knox College (Illinois) in 1919. His first career was as a school teacher in Illinois (1911-14 and 1921-23). After he earned M.S. (1924) and Ph.D. (1927) degrees from the University of Illinois, he became instructor in zoology (1927-28) and in experimental biology (1928-32) at the University of Minnesota; later he headed the laboratory of physiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Mayo Foundation, where he became professor in 1944. He was cochairman (with Charles Code) of the Section on Physiology of the Mayo Foundation and Clinic from 1952 until his retirement in 1958. In 1959 and 1960 after retirement from Mayo, he was director of undergraduate research for a program in experimental biology at St. Mary's College in Winona, Minnesota.

Essex was elected to APS in 1932. He served on the APS Council from 1941 to 1946 and again in 1951 and 1952 before his election as president elect. He also served on many Society committees: the Board of Publication Trustees (1955-58); the Committee on Loyalty, Clearance and Academic Freedom; and the Committee on Animal Care and Experimentation (1952-56), which he served as first chairman. On this latter committee he was responsible for revising and extending the "Guiding Principles" originally developed in 1912 by Walter B. Cannon for animal research. These principles were adopted by the Federation, the National Society for Medical Research (as "Principles for Laboratory Animal Care"), the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Essex later became president of the National Society for Medical Research. After serving as president of APS, Essex was a member of the Finance Committee (1963-64) and the Senior Physiologists Committee.

Essex's scientific work, though in diverse areas, largely dealt with cardiovascular function. Shock was one of his early interests. From this he moved to measurement of regional blood flow. Techniques developed here have permitted new understanding of function in a wide range of organ systems from the heart and lungs to the intestine, liver, and kidney.

In addition to his scientific career, Essex had two others, as a farmer and as a painter. Starting in 1940, he achieved considerable success as a Holstein breeder and served as president of the Minnesota Holstein Association in 1958. As a painter he developed a very individual style and techniques. An example of his artistry graces the main lobby of the Milton O. Lee Building on the Beaumont campus in Bethesda.

Selected Publications

1. Donald, D. E. Hiram Eli Essex, 27th APS president. Physiologist 26: 1-3, 1983.

2. Essex, H. E. The philosophy of physiology. Past president's address. Am. J. Physiol. 183: 583-590, 1955.

3. Fenn, W. O. History of the American Physiological Society: The Third Quarter Century, 1937-1962. Washington, DC: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1963, p. 32-34.