Warren Plimpton Lombard

8th APS President (1919-1920)
Warren Plimpton Lombard
(1855-1939)

Lombard was the last of the original members of APS to serve as president. His presidency coincided with the immediate aftermath of World War I. Because there were no meetings in 1918, two were held in 1919, at which war-related research was presented. In 1920 the first international congress since 1913 was held in Paris, but, to the disapproval of many Americans, German and Austrian physiologists were excluded. Lombard took part in the negotiations concerning the establishment of Physiological Reviews, and it was also during his presidency that Porter, through personal conversation with his old friend, offered the funds to establish the Porter Fellowship.

After receiving A.B. (1878) and M.D. (1881) degrees from Harvard, Lombard spent three years in Leipzig, where in Ludwig's institute he studied spinal reflexes in the frog by means of an ingenious apparatus that he designed to record simultaneously the contractions of as many as fifteen muscles. On his return, Lombard carried out research in the physiological laboratories at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia. When APS was founded, Lombard was working as an assistant in Curtis's new laboratory at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1889 he became assistant professor of physiology at the newly founded Clark University. The remainder of his career was spent at the University of Michigan, where he served as professor of physiology from 1892 until his retirement in 1923. Lombard's research included studies on the knee jerk, muscular fatigue, blood pressure, and metabolism. He was especially noted for his ability to devise new techniques and apparatus.

One of the seventeen men who attended the organizational meeting of APS in 1887, Lombard presented a paper on the knee jerk at the first special meeting of the Society in September 1888. For many years he was a constant attendant at meetings and a frequent contributor to the program. He served as second secretary-treasurer of the Society in 1893 and 1894, as a member of Council for a total of thirteen years, and as a member of the Publications Committee (1897- 1911). He lived to attend the Society's Semicentennial Celebration in 1938, where he recalled the early days of physiology in Curtis's laboratory and concluded, "I have had more pleasure in research and the associations which were given me with the American Physiological Society, than perhaps anything else in my life,except my wife." John W. Bean wrote of him, "His dignity of manner, gracious poise, and instinctive politeness marked him as a professor of the old school."

Selected Publications

1. Anonymous. Warren Plimpton Lombard, 1855-1939. Physiologist 8: 1-2, 1965.

2. Bean, J. W. Warren Plimpton Lombard. In: Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Scribner, 1958, suppl. 2, p. 390-391.

3. Davenport, H. W. Physiology, 1850-1923: the view from Michigan. Physiologist Suppl. 24(1): 50-76, 1982.

4. Howell, W. H., and C. W. Greene. History of the American Physiological Society Semicentennial, 1887-1937. Baltimore, MD: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1938, p. 34-35, 107, and 197-198.