One year ago, we published the inaugural issue of Physiology—with an exciting new journal design, new art, and new features—to showcase the best of physiology in a short-review format. I think that we have had a successful year.
Physiology and the discipline of physiology
One of the goals of our editorial board was to take a broad view of the science that we think of as “physiology,” of our authors that we think of as “physiologists,” and of our readers whom we believe will be drawn to the reviews that our authors write. If asked to label themselves, not all of our authors would describe themselves, first and foremost, as physiologists, but we believe that they do physiology for a living. So, what is physiology?
In his editorial in the June 2005 issue of this journal (2), Ulrich Pohl waxed philosophical on the defining characteristics of the discipline we call physiology. Professor Pohl pointed out that one of these defining characteristics, based on the etymology of the word “physiology,” is that the discipline of physiology is the study of the “normal function of living things.” As practiced today, physiology sees itself as a discipline that attempts to integrate our understanding of “function” from the most reductionist levels (e.g., the sequence of DNA or the atomic structure of a protein) to the entire organism as it interacts with its environment. Of course, scientists who view themselves as practitioners of disciplines other than physiology may also be interested in understanding function. However, what distinguishes physiology as a discipline is that its practitioners are fundamentally committed to understanding how the functions that they study at one level of reductionism (e.g., the control of smooth muscle tone) influence the understanding of that same function at other levels of reductionism (e.g., the molecular structure of calcium transporters or the local control of blood flow).
I believe that our authors—whether or not they view themselves as physiologists—have been true to this commitment, and therefore I hope that our reviews will help us all integrate our understandings of life at different levels of reductionism.
Physiology as a tool for spreading the good word of physiology
Another one of the goals of the editorial board has been to make the journal design so appealing, the artwork so attractive, and the features so useful that our readers would wish to pick up the journal and not put it down. Based on the many unsolicited comments that we have received, our art studio—the Philadelphia-based J/B Woolsey Arts, Inc.—has been eminently successful in producing a product that is both beautiful and didactically effective. I thank our artists for this. A parallel goal of the editorial board has been to select review topics that are so timely and authors who are so renowned that our readers will feel compelled to read the exciting science of Physiology. I thank the editorial board members for identifying the topics and authors, as well as for editing the manuscripts. We all are deeply indebted to our authors, almost all of whom, during our first year, committed to writing reviews before ever seeing a copy of the new journal. I am touched by the confidence that they placed in us, and I congratulate them for establishing the momentum of Physiology. I also thank the long list of individuals that I singled out in my editorial one year ago (1), most especially Kim Barrett (Chair of the APS Publications Committee), Margaret Reich (Director of Publications at APS), Jessica Darago (Journal Copy Editor), and Charleen Bertolini (Editorial Coordinator).
When asked about my goals for the journal in its second year, I can only state that we are trying to do everything better. We will know that we have been successful when Physiology is the first choice of those who wish to read and cite short reviews in physiology. And, of course, we hope that our readers will feel compelled to cite our reviews when they write their own papers!
I am thankful for the opportunity and the challenge of helping to create Physiology, and I look forward to many more anniversaries.
- © 2005 Int. Union Physiol. Sci./Am. Physiol. Soc.