Julius H. Comroe, Jr.

33rd APS President (1960-1961)
Julius H. Comroe, Jr.

Julius Comroe became president of APS in July 1960 after having served on Council since 1956. Elected to membership in the Society in 1943, he participated in Edward Adolph's survey (1946) and then served on the Education Committee and the Central Committee of the Survey of Physiology (1952-56).

Born in York, Pennsylvania, Comroe entered the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his B.A. (1931) and M.D. (1934) degrees; he remained associated with that institution for thirty years. He was appointed instructor in pharmacology in 1936 and rose through the ranks to become professor and chairman of physiology and pharmacology of the Graduate School of Medicine in 1946. In 1957 he moved to the University of California, San Francisco, to become director of the new Cardiovascular Research Institute. He retired as director in 1973 but continued as professor of physiology; he was given emeritus status in 1978.

Noted for his scientific contributions in cardiovascular and respiratory function, Comroe was perhaps most interested in teaching and communications. He was an initial member of the APS Education Committee (1953-58). Not only was he a highly effective teacher personally (Association of Chairmen of Departments of Physiology Teaching Award in 1974), he also conceived and carried out a number of special programs and publications promoting better communication of physiological knowledge to a broader audience. Among these were the first APS "Refresher Course" for teachers (1954), an APS Postgraduate Course for Physicians (1960), Physiology for Physicians (1963, later the series "Physiology in Medicine"), and his popular book, Retrospectoscope (1977), which traced the scientific background of prominent "medical" discoveries.

As a member of Council, Comroe promoted changes in the bylaws to create the two new categories of membership, associate and sustaining associate. The most notable, certainly the most controversial, event of Comroe's presidency was a change of the bylaws, which he strongly advocated, abolishing the Board of Publication Trustees and creating a Publications Committee and a Finance Committee more directly responsible to the elected Council.

Comroe was presented the Ray G. Daggs Award in 1977 for contributions to physiology and to the Society.

Selected Publications

1. Berliner, R. W. Julius Hiram Comroe, Jr. (1911-1984). Physiologist 28: 3-4, 1985.

2. Fenn, W. O. History of the American Physiological Society: The Third Quarter Century, 1937-1962. Washington, DC: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1963, p. 48-49.