The Physiological Society

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The Physiological Society, founded in 1876, is a learned society for physiologists in the United Kingdom.


The Physiological Society was founded in 1876 as a dining society "for mutual benefit and protection" by a group of 19 physiologists, led by John Burdon Sanderson and Michael Foster, as a result of the 1875 Royal Commission on Vivisection and the subsequent 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act.[1] The aim was to promote the advancement of physiology. Charles Darwin and William Sharpey were elected as The Society's first two Honorary Members. The Society first met at Sanderson's London home. The first rules of The Society offered membership to no more than 40, all of whom should be male "working" physiologists.[2] Women were first admitted as members in 1915 and the centenary of this event was celebrated in 2015 [3][4]

Michael Foster was also founder of The Journal of Physiology in 1878, and was appointed to the first Chair of Physiology at the University of Cambridge in 1883.

The archives are held at the Wellcome Library.[5]

In 2012 The Society became a member of the UK Science Council.

Present day[edit]

The Society consists of over 3500 members, including 14 Nobel Laureates and over 700 affiliates (younger scientists) drawn from over 50 countries. The majority of members are engaged in research, in universities or industry, into how the body works in health and disease and in teaching physiology in schools and universities. The Society also facilitates communication between scientists and with other interested groups.

The Physiological Society publishes the academic journals The Journal of Physiology and Experimental Physiology, and with the American Physiological Society publishes the online only, open access journal Physiological Reports.[6] It also publishes the membership magazine Physiology News.

The Society awards a number of prizes for meritorious achievement, including the Annual Review lecture, the International Prize Lecture, the triennial Bayliss-Starling Prize Lecture, the G.L.Brown Prize Lecture, the Hodgkin-Huxley-Katz Prize Lecture, the Joan Mott Prize Lecture and the biennial Michael de Burgh Daly Prize Lecture.[7]


  1. ^ The History of The National Anti-Vivisection Society (The National Anti-Vivisection Society)
  2. ^ Sharpey-Schafer,E. History of the Physiological Society during its first Fifty Years 1876-1927, Oxford University Press, London, 1927
  3. ^ "Series of livecasts 'Celebrating 100 years of Women's Membership of The Physiological Society'". The Physiological Society. Retrieved 16 September 2016. 
  4. ^ Helen Burgess (Spring 2015). "100 years of women members: The Society's centenary of women's admission" (PDF). Physiology News: Issue 98. Retrieved 16 September 2016. 
  5. ^ "The Physiological Society". Catalogue. Wellcome Library. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  6. ^ "Physiological Reports". Journals. American Physiological Society. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Lectures and Prizes" (PDF). Physiological Society. Retrieved 7 December 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]