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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] Other founding members included: William Sharpey, Thomas Huxley, George Henry Lewes, Francis Galton, John Marshall, George Murray Humphry, Frederick William Pavy, Lauder Brunton, David Ferrier, Philip Pye-Smith, Walter H. Gaskell, John Gray McKendrick, Emanuel Edward Klein, Edward Schafer, Francis Darwin, George Romanes, and Gerald Yeo. 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]

Present dayEdit

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's current president is Bridget Lumb.[7] The post of president was established in 2001. Past holders include:[8]


The Society awards a number of prizes for meritorious achievement.[9]

Annual Review Prize LectureEdit

The society considers its Annual Review Prize Lecture, first awarded in 1968, to be its premier award.[9]

International Prize LectureEdit

Bayliss-Starling Prize LectureEdit

Named for William Bayliss and Ernest Starling.[10]

Biller Prize LectureEdit

Named in memory of Kathy Biller.[10]

G L Brown Prize LectureEdit

Named for George Lindor Brown.[10]

G W Harris Prize LectureEdit

Named in memory of Geoffrey Wingfield Harris [Wikidata].[10]

Hodgkin-Huxley-Katz Prize LectureEdit

Name after Alan Hodgkin, Andrew Huxley and Bernard Katz.

Joan Mott Prize LectureEdit

Named for Joan Mott.[10]

Michael de Burgh Daly Prize LectureEdit

Named for Michael de Burgh Daly [Wikidata].

Otto Hutter Teaching PrizeEdit

Named for Otto Hutter.[10]

The Paton LectureEdit

Named for William D.M. Paton.[10]

Annual Public LectureEdit

Sharpey-Schafer Lecture and PrizeEdit

Named after Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer.[10]

Wellcome Prize LectureEdit

GSK Prize LectureEdit


  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. ^ "Council". The Physiological Society. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Past Officers of the Physiological Society" (PDF). The Physiological Society. 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Prize lectures". The Physiological Society. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "Lectures and Prizes" (PDF). The Physiological Society. 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  11. ^ Barrett, Kim E. (2017-01-15). "Endogenous and exogenous control of gastrointestinal epithelial function: building on the legacy of Bayliss and Starling". The Journal of Physiology. 595 (2): 423–432. doi:10.1113/JP272227. ISSN 1469-7793. PMC 5233669. PMID 27284010.
  12. ^ How your body clock makes you tick on YouTube
  13. ^ The loving brain on YouTube

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit