The Australian Physiological Society

History    Aims

AuPS is the professional association for Australian physiologists, founded in 1960. Physiology is a key life science essential to our understanding of how humans and animals function. With the increasing specialisation of biomedical research, physiology provides an essential framework within which new knowledge of cells and molecules can be applied to improving human health.

Key Objectives of AuPS are:


The Australian Physiological and Pharmacological Society had its genesis in 1957, when the late W.V. Macfarlane, then Professor of Physiology at the University of Queensland, spoke to P.O. Bishop at the University of Sydney, J.C. Eccles at the Australian National University, and the late R.D. Wright and the late F.H. Shaw at the University of Melbourne, about the need for the formation of an Australian Physiological Society. All agreed that such a move was overdue, although it was not until 1959 that definite steps to establish a society were taken. In that year W.V. Macfarlane, who had moved in the meantime to the Australian National University in Canberra, undertook the planning of a scientific meeting to be held in Sydney in May 1960. A draft constitution for the proposed society was drawn up with the assistance of G. Sawer.

Over 26-28 May 1960, 126 physiologists and pharmacologists attended a meeting in the Department of Physiology, University of Sydney at which 84 scientific papers were read. A business meeting was held on 26 May, attended by 49 scientists from Australia and New Zealand who were active in the areas of physiology or pharmacology. Those present were invited to consider the form to be taken by the proposed society and to consider the draft constitution. P.O. Bishop, head of the host Department, took the chair and W.V. Macfarlane acted as secretary. The name of the society chosen at this meeting was the Australian Physiological Society, but, in 1967, the word Pharmacology was included in the name, in recognition of the fact that pharmacologists had been strongly represented and very active in the Society from its foundation.

ASCEPT drew increasing numbers of pharmacologists away from the Society, leading to the recognition by the early 2000s that the Society had become one representing only physiologists. At the Sydney 2003 meeting, a motion was passed to return to the original name, and in February 2004 the necessary changes to the Constiution were passed by postal ballot to effect the change of name to the "The Australian Physiological Society Inc.".

Because the abbreviation "APS" is used by many to refer to the American society, the decision to use the abbreviation "AuPS" was made by Council, and the Society's internet domain was registered as "".


Office Bearers

The inaugural meeting appointed the first council, which consisted of eight members with W.V. Macfarlane as National Secretary and P.O. Bishop as Treasurer. Subsequent office bearers have been:

National Secretaries
P.I. Korner, M.E. Holman, J.R. Hales, S.R. O'Donnell, J.A. Young, T.O. Morgan, C. Bell, A.R. Luff, R.J. Lang, D.A. Saint, J. Lynch, R. Murphy and M. Watt, D. Skelly, G. Wadley
M.G. Taylor, A.J. Day, P.W. Gage, W. Burke, C. Bell, A.L.A. Boura, D.I. Cook, C.E. Hill, D.G. Allen, C.B. Neylon, S. Bröer, P. Thorn, B. Launikonis, A Russell, S Lamon, D Hiam
In 1981, the Society created the position of President. The first elected president was A.K. McIntyre.
Subsequent Presidents
W.J. Simmonds, P.I. Korner, M.E. Holman, M.J. Rand, D.R. Curtis, J.A. Young, P.W. Gage, D. Adams, D.G. Allen, G. Lamb, G. Lynch, R. Murphy


National Meetings

Since the early 1970s, two scientific meetings a year were held by the Society, hosted by Departments of Physiology or Pharmacology in one or other of the Australian Universities. From 1997, due to changing circumstances, in particular the proliferation of specialist societies, the Society moved to hold only one annual meeting. The publication of two Issues of the Proceedings annually was retained.



In May 1970, the Council felt that the Society was stable enough financially for it to publish its own journal, to be called the Proceedings of the Australian Physiological and Pharmacological Society. The first issue, which was produced by an editorial committee consisting of M.E. Holman, A.J. Day and M.L. Mashford, contained the abstracts of the papers presented at the 10th Annual General Meeting held in the Department of Physiology, University of Melbourne in May 1970. In 1971, D.R. Curtis was appointed the Editor of the Proceedings. Subsequent Editors have been J.A. Young, J.J. Carmody, D.F. Davey, J.M. Lingard, A.R. Luff, L.M. Aitkin, I. McCance, D.F. Davey, A. Dinudom and D.G. Allen.

Starting in 2000, one number of the two issues, containing the abstracts of the Annual Scientific Meeting, was supplied only to registrants of the meeting in hard copy, but was published on the Society's web site. In 2002 Council decided to cease publication of paper issues of the Proceedings. In 2003, the first on-line submission and publication of the meeting abstracts went smoothly, ensuring that electronic publication will continue in future.


International Meetings and Associations

In August 1972, the Society hosted a South East Asian and Pacific Regional Meeting of the International Union of Physiological Sciences in the Department of Physiology at the University of Sydney. In August 1983, it hosted the 29th Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences at the University of New South Wales. In February 1988, it participated in the inaugural meeting of the Australian Societies for Experimental Biology, a federation of the twelve leading biological societies in Australia. In 2001 APPS and the Physiological Society of New Zealand co-hosted the 34th Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Society has been seminally involved in formation of the Federation of the Asian and Oceanian Physiological Societies (FAOPS), providing advice and financial support. In 1998 the Society's 66th Meeting was held in Brisbane in conjunction with the 4th Congress of FAOPS, the 2nd Congress of FAONS (The Federation of Asian-Oceanian Neuroscience Societies) and the Annual Meeting of the Physiological Society of New Zealand. More than 500 delegates attended. Prof D. Adams chaired the Congress Organising Committee and Prof E. McLachlan the International Programme Committee. In 1999, Prof J.A. Young was elected President of FAOPS.

*See also Macfarlane, W.V. (1977) Origins of the Australian Physiological Society, Proceedings of the Australian Physiological and Pharmacological Society, 9, 1-5.


1.To enhance the profile of the AuPS as a body representing ALL physiologists engaged in research and teaching in Australia.



2. To enhance the prestige and appeal of the AuPS scientific meetings.



3. To assist and encourage the professional development of tertiary education in physiology.



4. To proactively provide advice and information to government and the community in areas of deliberation relevant to the physiological sciences.



5. To help maintain and encourage the responsible teaching of biological sciences in schools.