American Physiological Society

The American Physiological Society was founded in 1887 with 28 members.[1] Of them, 21 were graduates of medical schools, but only 12 had studied in institutions that had a professor of physiology. Today, it has 10,500 members, most of whom hold doctoral degrees in medicine, physiology[1] or other health professions. Its mission then, as now, is to support research, education, and circulation of information in the physiological sciences.

The American Physiological Society was founded at a time when very few physiological laboratories existed in America and there were few investigators. The newly established society was one of the earliest national disciplinary societies in the sciences, the first society in the biomedical sciences, and likely the first to require its members to publish original research.[2] The stated object of the Society was to promote the advancement of physiology and to facilitate discourse among American physiologists. Even in 1887 there was a conscious effort to ensure representation of all areas within physiology, encompassing topics as diverse as neurology, psychology, ophthalmology, pathology and therapeutics, as well as plant physiology and animal biology. Today there are a variety of membership categories for those at all interest levels and ages.


Since it was founded in 1887, the APS has had 86 presidents lead the organization, beginning with founder Henry Bowditch and continuing through its current president, Kim E. Barrett. The APS is governed by an elected Council consisting of the President, the President-Elect, the immediate Past President, and nine Councillors. Management of the affairs of the Society is the responsibility of a full-time Executive Director, appointed by and responsible to the Council. The Society maintains a staff and offices on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) in Bethesda, Maryland. The Society conducts its operations based on a Constitution and Bylaws, as given in the Society's Operational Guide. As a nonprofit scientific organization, the Society holds tax-exempt status. The organization is managed by Executive Director Martin Frank, PhD., a physiologist by training and is based in Bethesda, MD.

History and activity

The APS recognizes five physiologists as its founders: Henry Pickering Bowditch, Silas Weir Mitchell, and Henry Newell Martin co-signed the original letter to active physiology researchers inviting them to the new society, and John Green Curtis and Russell Henry Chittenden provided early organizational support. The organizational meeting founding the society was held on December 30, 1887 in Curtis' laboratory space at Columbia University and was attended by seventeen people.[2][3] The society had 28 founding members.[1] The first regular meeting of the APS followed in September 1888 in Washington, DC, featuring paper presentations and demonstrations.[3]

In its early days the APS served a young field with relatively few dedicated researchers, so its efforts were oriented toward advancing teaching and research. APS members collaborated to author a textbook of physiology and launched a journal, the American Journal of Physiology, in 1898. As the field of physiology matured, the society expanded in membership.[2]

The modern APS sponsors many awards, including the Horace W. Davenport Distinguished Lecturer,[4] the Walter B. Cannon Award,[5] and Arthur C. Guyton Award.[6]


The American Physiological Society publishes both journals and books as a nonprofit publisher.

There are 14 scholarly, peer-reviewed journals covering specialized aspects of physiology. Ten of the journals are published twice monthly. All told, APS publishes some 3,100 original peer-reviewed articles annually, totaling approximately 32,000 pages per year.

  • The American Journal of Physiology. Cell Physiology is dedicated to innovative approaches to the study of cell and molecular physiology.
  • The American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism publishes original, mechanistic studies on the physiology of endocrine and metabolic systems.
  • The American Journal of Physiology. Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology publishes original articles pertaining to all aspects of research involving function of the gastrointestinal tract, hepatobiliary system and pancreas.
  • The American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology focuses on the physiology of the heart, blood vessels and lymphatics, including experimental and theoretical studies of cardiovascular function at all levels.
  • The American Journal of Physiology. Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology covers molecular, cellular and integrative aspects of normal and abnormal function of cells and components of the respiratory system.
  • The American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology highlights regulation and integration of physiological mechanism at all levels of biological organizations, ranging from molecules to humans.
  • The American Journal of Physiology. Renal Physiology is dedicated to a broad range of subjects relating to the kidney, urinary tract, and their respective cells and vasculature.
  • The American Journal of Physiology. Consolidated is published in two monthly volumes to include approximately 2,600 articles annually. This journal comprises the seven Journals of the APS described above.
  • Physiological Genomics publishes the results of a wide variety of experimental and computational studies from human and model systems to link genes and pathways to physiological functions.
  • Journal of Applied Physiology deals with research in applied physiology, especially adaptive and integrative mechanisms.
  • Journal of Neurophysiology includes articles on all levels of function of the nervous system, from the membrane and cell to systems and behavior.
  • Physiological Reviews provides coverage of timely issues in the physiological and biomedical sciences.
  • Physiology publishes invited review articles written by leaders in their fields.
  • Advances in Physiology Education promotes educational scholarship in order to enhance teaching and learning of physiology, neuroscience and pathophysiology.
  • The Physiologist, the newsletter of the American Physiological Society, features articles on Society affairs and announcements, as well as articles of importance to today’s physiology.
  • APS Legacy Content goes back to the first issue of each of the APS journals from 1898 to 1996-1998, depending on the journal. It includes APS’s first journal in 1898, the American Journal of Physiology, and is available online only.
  • Physiological Reports, a collaboration between The Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society, is an online only, open access journal that publishes peer reviewed research across all areas of basic, translational and clinical physiology and allied disciplines.
  • Comprehensive Physiology is a seminal online publication that includes complete content from the landmark Handbook of Physiology series. It is continually expanded through a dynamic program of quarterly updates and directed by a distinguished editorial advisory board. It is published on behalf of the American Physiological Society by Wiley-Blackwell.


Members can affiliate with one of twelve disciplinary sections composed of members that share a common interest. The sections are Cardiovascular, Cell and Molecular Physiology, Central Nervous System, Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Environmental and Exercise Physiology, Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, Neural Control and Autonomic Regulation, Renal Physiology, Respiration, Teaching of Physiology and Water and Electrolyte Homeostasis. Each member is asked to designate one primary, and two secondary section affiliations. Sections have their own internal governance.


The APS has a variety of membership categories to accommodate all interest levels. Regular membership is for individuals conducting original research in physiology. Affiliate membership is for individuals interested in physiology but without the evidence of scholarly work. Graduate Student membership is for any student engaged in physiological work that will culminate in a doctoral degree. Undergraduate Student membership is for individuals working toward an undergraduate degree that will eventually lead to work in physiology or a related field.


The American Physiological Society provides its membership with opportunities to be involved with the Society through service on its various committees. The Committees are: Animal Care and Experimentation, Awards, Career Opportunities in Physiology, Chapter Advisory Committee, Committee on Committees, Communications, Conferences, Daggs Award, Education, Finance, International Physiology, Joint Program, Physiologists in Industry, Membership, Perkins Memorial Fellowship, Porter Physiology Development, Public Affairs, Publications, Section Advisory, Senior Physiologists, Trainee Advisory, and Women in Physiology.


The American Physiological Society sponsors a number of scientific meetings each year. Experimental Biology, the APS annual meeting, is conducted jointly with other FASEB member societies. In addition to its annual meeting, specialized APS Conferences are held throughout the year and focus on designated areas of physiological research. The spring annual meeting, Experimental Biology, is convened jointly with other biomedical societies. This multi-society interdisciplinary, biomedical, and scientific meeting features plenary and award lectures, symposia, oral and poster sessions, a placement center, and an exhibit of scientific equipment, supplies, and publications.[7]


  1. "About". American Physiological Society. Archived from the original on 2018-10-21. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
  2. Appel, Toby A. (1987). "2". In Brobeck, John R.; Reynolds, Orr E.; Appel, Toby A. (eds.). History of the American Physiological Society the First Century, 1887-1987. New York, NY: Springer New York. ISBN 9781461475767.
  3. "Founders". American Physiological Society. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  4. "UNC researcher honored by American Physiological Society — UNC School of Medicine".
  5. "School of Medicine — School of Medicine University of Louisville".
  6. "Assistant Professor Kelly Suter receives prestigious American Physiological Society award".
  7. "The American Physiological Society Convenes For 120th Annual Meeting" (press release).
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