William F. Hamilton

28th APS President (1955-1956)
William F. Hamilton

William F. Hamilton presided at the 1955 fall meeting at Tufts University in Medford and at the 1956 spring meeting in Atlantic City. He had previously served on Council (1942-49) and as a member of the Board of Publication Trustees (1951-54 and 1957-59). He had been elected to APS in 1924.

Hamilton was born in Tombstone, Arizona. He received the A.B. degree from Pomona College (1917) and Ph.D. degree from the University of California in 1921. He was an assistant in biology at Pomona College (1914-17), served in the Army Medical Corps (1917-19), and was a laboratory assistant at the University of California (1917-21). After serving as instructor in biology at the University of Texas (1920-21) and at Yale (1921-23), he joined the faculty of the University of Louisville, where he became professor in 1930. From 1932 to 1934 he was at George Washington University. Dr. Hamilton became Professor and Chairman of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Georgia Medical College in Augusta, GA in 1934. The Department of Physiology was separated from the pharmacology department in 1943, the Medical College of Georgia became an independent unit within the University System of Georgia in 1950, and Dr. Hamilton served as Chairman of the department until his retirement to emeritus status in 1960.

After an early interest in animal behavior, Hamilton's research turned first to sensory physiology and later to the circulation. Methods he and his collaborators developed were crucial in establishing pressure-flow and volume relationships in the circulation that led directly to many of our present clinical capabilities.

Among his many contributions to the Society were his co-discovery with Milton Lee (1953) of the Hawley estate in Bethesda as a potential "home" for APS, his inspiration to name the property Beaumont and the mansion Beaumont House, his establishment of the executive secretary of APS as a full-time appointment independent of FASEB, and his design of the APS seal. He was a member of the Committee on the Use and Care of Animals (1952-58) and the Senior Physiologists Committee (1957-60 and 1962-64) and was section editor of the volumes on circulation of the first APS Handbook series. Hamilton was a strong advocate of the concept that the Board of Publication Trustees should remain a body one step removed from immediate Society exigencies and politics and thought it unfortunate that a small minority of members could bring about its downfall in the 1961 business meeting.

Selected Publications

1. Baker, C. E., et al. William F. Hamilton. Physiologist 27: 64-65, 1984.

2. Dow, P. William F. Hamilton. Physiologist 8: 95-96, 1965.

3. Fenn, W. O. History of the American Physiological Society: The Third Quarter Century, 1937-1962. Washington, DC: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1963, p. 34-37.

4. Hamilton, W. F. A day dream. Past president's address. Am. J. Physiol. 187: 579-581, 1956.

5. Hamilton, W. F. Personal recollections as to the affairs of the Society from 1921 - to date. Physiologist 7: 38-41, 1964.