Biophysical Society

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The Biophysical Society is an American scientific society that exists to encourage the development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. Founded in 1957 by Ernest C. Pollard, the society currently consists of over 9,000 researchers in academia, government, and industry. Although the Society is based in the United States, overseas members currently comprise about one third of the total.


The Biophysical Society was founded in response to the growth of the field of biophysics after World War Two, as well as concerns that the American Physiological Society had become too large to serve the community of biophysicists.[citation needed] Discussions between prominent biophysicists in 1955 and 1956 led to the planning of the society's first meeting in Columbus, Ohio in 1957, with about 500 attendees. Among the scientists involved in the early effort were Ernest C. Pollard, Samuel Talbot, Otto Schmitt, Kenneth Stewart Cole, W. A. Selle, Max Lauffer, Ralph Stacy, Herman P. Schwan, and Robley C. Williams. This meeting was described by Cole as "a biophysics meeting with the ulterior motive of finding out if there was such a thing as biophysics and, if so, what sort of thing this biophysics might be."[1]


Since 1960 the Biophysical Society has published the Biophysical Journal, which is currently semi-monthly, as a specialized journal in the field of biophysics. This was started because the Society perceived other scientific journals as unsympathetic to submissions by biophysicists.[1] The society also publishes a monthly newsletter and an annual Membership Directory and Products Guide.[2]

The Biophysical Society sponsors an annual meeting which brings together more than 6,000 scientists for symposia, workshops, industrial and educational exhibits, subgroup meetings, and awards presentations.[1] Since 1969 the meeting has featured a talk by that year's National Lecturer, chosen for significance in biophysical research and excellence in presentation; the lectures are published in the Biophysical Journal, and those since 2003 are available on video.[3] Starting in 2010 with "Calcium Signaling" in Beijing,[4] the society now also sponsors smaller thematic meetings across the world.

The society offers eight Society Awards each year to distinguished biophysicists in different categories,[5] including the Founders Award for career-long achievement and the Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award and the Michael and Kate Bárány Award to outstanding younger investigators. The society also offers awards for students, such as a number of poster competitions at its Annual Meeting, as well as other scientific conferences.[6] In addition, the society sponsors "Biophysics Awards" at high school science fairs across the nation.[7]


The Biophysical Society contains subgroups focusing on smaller areas within biophysics. The current subgroups are: Bioenergetics, Biological Fluorescence, Biopolymers in vivo, Exocytosis & Endocytosis, Intrinsically Disordered Proteins, Membrane Biophysics, Membrane Structure & Assembly, Molecular Biophysics, Motility, Nanoscale Biophysics, and Permeation & Transport.[8]

In addition to the scientific subgroups, the society has a number of committees which help to implement the its mission. The committees are: Awards, Early Careers, Education, Finance, International Relations, Member Services, Membership, Minority Affairs, Nominating, Professional Opportunities for Women, Program, Public Affairs, Publications, and Thematic Meetings.[9]

The society is governed by four officers: the President, President-elect, Secretary, and Treasurer, as well as by a Council of seven members. These offices are elected by the membership of the society. There is also an Executive Board, consisting of the four officers and four of the Council members plus the Past-President.[10]

Public policy[edit]

The Biophysical Society also maintains a Public Affairs committee which responds to science policy issues such as research, careers, and science education, and has adopted a number of positions. In February 2004, the society released a statement supporting freedom of communication of scientific data, supporting the existing policy that prior classification strictly for national security reasons should be the only reason communication of scientific data should be restricted. The society also urged a reexamination of visa policy in the wake of several foreign-born scientists being denied permission to travel to the United States, citing the importance of their importance to the economy and security of the United States. In May 2005, the society released a statement opposing the teaching of intelligent design in science classrooms, calling it an "effort to blur the distinction between science and theology".[11]

The society is also active in supporting federal funding of science, and provides materials to assist scientists in communicating with elected officials.[12] The society participates in the annual Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day, in which scientists, engineers and business leaders meet with elected officials in the United States Congress.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Satin, L. S. (July 2011). "The Biophysical Society: A Short History". Biophysical Society Newsletter: 4–5. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "Publications". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "National Lecture Videos". Biophysical Society. 
  4. ^ "Joint Meeting on New Horizons in Calcium Signalling". Biophysical Society. 
  5. ^ "Society Awards". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Poster Competitions". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Biophysics Across America". Biophysical Society. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Subgroups". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Committees". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "Leadership". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Position Statements". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  12. ^ Weiss, Ellen (19 August 2011). "Scientists: Go Forth and Meet Your Congressmen!". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "BPS Members on the Hill". Biophysical Society. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 

External links[edit]