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The American Physiological Society has been continuously involved in the support of career training of physiologists since the award of the first Porter Fellowship in 1920. The fellowship was first established and maintained by Dr. William Townsend Porter through his personal generosity and that of the non-profit Harvard Apparatus Company, founded by Dr. Porter. During his term as president of the Society, Dr. Porter recognized the need to stimulate and recruit young scientists as career teachers and investigators. He later included in his legacy a means for perpetuation of the annually awarded fellowship through the vehicle of the William Townsend Porter Foundation (formerly the Harvard Apparatus Foundation). Fellows are selected each year by a panel made up of members of the Society.

During 1966 and 1967, the Society approved the creation of the standing Porter Physiology Development Committee with the following focus and expanded duties: "...to stimulate and assist in the improvement of underdeveloped American departments of physiology, particularly in those colleges and medical schools with predominantly minority enrollments. In addition, the committee awards fellowships to minority students who are engaged in graduate study in physiology..."

Between 1967 and 1990, the number of minority predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows who were supported annually by the Porter program grew from one per year in 1967 to nine per year in 1990. Most fellows received multiyear support during that period. In addition to the training assistance granted to graduate students, the Porter Physiology Development Committee also authorized: support of visiting lecturers in physiology courses at institutions with a predominant minority enrollment, summer research fellowships for undergraduates in research laboratories of physiologists, travel for minority students and faculty to attend scientific meetings, and support of pilot program initiatives to increase ethnic and racial diversity within the community of physiologists.

Since 1967, the program has made fellowship awards to minority students in physiology. A complete listing of awardees is available on the Awardees page and selected biographies of current and past awardees can be found on the Biographies page.



Brief Biography of William Townsend Porter

Read a brief biography of William Townsend Porter from the 1979 issue of “The Physiologist”.