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Department History


This is the History of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at The University of Iowa, beginning from 1870-current. The information provided here is not complete and will continue to be added to as more information becomes available.

Part I: Pre-McClintock Era (1870-1902)

Since very little detailed information is available concerning the early years of the Department, this period can be called the "Pre-McClintock Era" (1870-1902).

All of the men who occupied the position of Chair during this time were practicing physicians who divided their time between their own private practices, lecturing, and carrying out administrative duties that were required of them.

It was expected that members of a medical school faculty should be able to teach any clinical or preclinical course. This requirement was often disputed and added to the frequent shift in leadership. At times, the shift in responsibility for teaching medical courses was very frustrating for everyone involved. For example, one particularly unpopular teaching assignment occurred when Professor Samuel Calvin (Geology) and Professor Thomas Macbride (Natural History) supervised the newly-instituted laboratory work in Pathology and Histology, and were assisted by two medical doctors.

During the pre-McClintock Era the following Professors occupied the Chair of Physiology:

William Drummond Middleton (1844-1902) was born near Aberdeen, Scotland. When he was 12 years old his family immigrated to Albany, New York and then moved to Davenport, Iowa. After graduating from high school he taught in a country school until the Civil War broke out and he was called to serve. Following the war, he obtained a M.D. degree from Bellevue (New York) Hospital and Medical College in 1868, and practiced in Davenport from 1868-1902. He also served in the following positions: Professor of Physiology and Microscopic Anatomy,1870-1887; Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine,1887-1891; Chief Surgeon of the Rock Island Railway,1892-1902; Dean of the College of Medicine,1895-1902; and President of the Iowa State Medical Society,1870-1891.He was a charter member of the Iowa Academy of Science, and initiated steps towards the construction of the University of Iowa's Medical Building (on Capitol square) following the 1898 construction of the first unit of The University Hospital #1 (East Hall). He also helped to secure the completion of the new Medical and Anatomy building (east campus) which was completed in 1905. However, he passed away in 1902 before the project was finished. Dr. Middleton early recognized the microbial origin of disease and, as if to prove his belief, died at the age of 58 from an infection accidentally contracted from a patient that he had been treating.

Richard W. Hill - No information is available

James R. Guthrie (1858-1930) was born on a farm in Sand Springs, Iowa. He obtained his M.D. at The University of Iowa in 1884, and completed his postgraduate work in New York City. He practiced medicine in Dubuque, Iowa until his death. In 1889-1898 he served as Professor of Physiology and Histology at The University of Iowa (In 1892 the title "Chair of Physiology and Microscopic Anatomy" was renamed "Chair of Physiology"). While occupying the Chair of Physiology he also served as an Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology, In 1898-1912 he served as Head of Ob-Gyn, and from 1912-1915 he was the Dean of the Medical Faculty and Professor Emeritus.

Lee Wallace Dean (1873-1944) was born in Muscatine, Iowa. He received his BS from The University of Iowa in 1894 and earned his M.D. in 1896. He spent one year doing postgraduate work in Vienna and other European countries. In 1898-1902 he occupied the chair of Physiology while teaching anatomy and acting as Clinical Assistant in Ophthalmology, Otology, and Rhinolaryngology as well as conducting a large private practice in Iowa City. In 1915 he succeeded J.R. Guthrie as Dean of the College of Medicine. In 1927, uring his deanship, the Medical Labs Building (west campus) . Also in 1927 Dr. Dean resigned as Dean to become Professor and Head of Otolaryngology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He was the last Chair of Physiology who combined a private practice with his teaching.

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Part II: McClintock Era (1902-1944)

A laboratory of the Department of Physiology; Bulletin of the State University of Iowa, July 1905

John Thomas McClintock was born in 1873. In 1894 he received his BA from Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa and went on to attend The University of Iowa where he obtained his M.D. in 1898. During his graduate work he served as an instructor in Pathology. He was appointed as the Acting Head in the Department of Physiology at The University of Iowa in 1902 and was named Chair of the Department in 1904, which he served as until he retired in 1944. Dr. McClintock passed away in 1954. Dr. McClintock was the first Physiology Department chairman at Iowa who had been specially trained in the basic sciences, and whose entire professional career was devoted to the teaching of physiology and conducting administrative affairs in the College of Medicine.

Dr. McClintock's appointment marked for Physiology at Iowa, the beginning of the present system of Department Heads (and all departmental faculty members) being full time, in-residence and specially-trained. Teaching under this new system included student laboratory instruction, which had been first discussed at the end of Dr. Dean's Chairmanship. In 1901, F.W. Bailey M.D., the Dean's Assistant, was sent to Johns Hopkins University to work with Dr. William H. Howell to learn techniques useful in teaching in student laboratories. When Dr. Bailey returned to Iowa he instituted the first student laboratory course in Physiology. In the fall of 1901, laboratory sessions were held in the roofed-over basement of South Hall which, along with the Medical Building, had earlier been damaged in a fire.


Dr. McClintock delivered lectures on topics of medical and physiological interest that were noted in "the Middlentonian"- a periodical of the Middletonian Society, an association of medical students that was named after the first Chairman of Physiology, Dr. W.D. Middleton. This periodical, published between 1901 and 1909, was devoted to biographies of faculty members, class news, photographs of medical buildings and faculty members, and technical articles.


A bound collection of reprints of published research from the Department of Physiology from the library of J.T. McClintock, and now in the possession of Dr. G. Edgar Folk of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at The University of Iowa tells us that the following were faculty in the Department during this time: John McClintock, Harry M. Hines, Chester E. Leese, Waid W. Tuttle, and Clinton Knowlton.

As far as can be determined, no graduate degrees were given in the Department prior to 1925. However, between 1925 and 1936 five degrees were earned. The first Ph.D. was obtained in 1930 by Chester E. Leese.

In 1923 Professors G.H. Plant (Pharmacology), J.T. McClintock, and S. H. Orton (Psychiatry) agreed to contribute funds to establish a shop in the Psychopathic Hospital to manufacture, maintain and repair the Departments' equipment. A.P. Freund, a machinist from Ohio State, was hired to run the shop. He brought with him his own equipment and new machines were purchased as funding became available. In 1927 the shop was moved to the newly constructed Medical Laboratories Building. The shop was renamed The Medical Instrument Shop and eventually led the way in designing and building an award-winning infrared "scanner" as well as one of the earliest successful heart-lung machines used in open-heart surgery at The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.


Professor Tuttle taught students in Physical Education and Home Economics, Professor Knowlton taught students in Nursing, and Professors Hines and Winter taught students in Dentistry.


Two senior medical students, P.J. McCann and L.A. Smith, were hired as part-time student teaching assistants. It was decided to continue this method of securing teaching assistances until a full-time instructor could be obtained.

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Part III: H.M. Hines (1944-1961)

J.T. McClintock resigned as Head of the Department in 1944 and Harry M. Hines, Professor of Physiology was appointed as Head. H.M. Hines received his BA from The University of Iowa in 1916 and his MS in 1917. In 1922 he received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and was appointed as an Assistant Professor, becoming a full Professor by 1938. He served as the Head of the Department from 1944-1961. Dr. Hines died in 1963.

Dr. G.C. Knowlton was placed on extended leave of absence and was commissioned in the U.S. Army Air Force and proceeded to the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas for training as an Aviation Physiologist in the AAF Altitude Training Program. After he completed his training, he was assigned to Selfridge Field, Michigan to initiate and activate the 18th Altitude Training Unit. During 1943-1946 J.D. Thomson also received a commission to the USAAAF, trained at Randolph Field, and joined Knowlton at Selfridge Field in 1943. At the end of WWII (1946) both returned to The University of Iowa.

The extended leaves of Knowlton and Thomson depleted the Faculty during WWII, when the Medical School's teaching load had been increased by the Navy's on-campus V-12 Medical and Cental Training Program and ASTP. The Navy Medical Training Program, which began July 1, 1943, was a program in which the government conducted medical training, all expenses paid, to increase the number of Navy doctors and dentists. "Students" were listed as Apprentice Seaman (V-12), wore regulation uniforms, attended daily drills and indoctrination lectures, and had monitored classroom attendance.


The following building additions and improvements were made:

Lecture Room #2: Forced ventilation, darkening of windows (for projection), installation of fluorescent ceiling lights, installation of an electric wall clock, a new blackboard, and facilities for still motion picture projection were installed.

Installation of air conditioners wherever human subjects were used in teaching and research. Excess and unused equipment was moved to a temporary building which was the Naval Wrestling Pavilion (a relic of the Naval Pre-Flight training days of WW II and then called the "Physiology Annex").

In 1950 H.M. Hines was presented with a Distinguished Service Gold Key at the American Congress of Physical Medicine.


Following Dr. Hines' retirement, Dr. C.A.M. Hogben was appointed as Department Head, effective September 1, 1961.

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Part IV: C.A.M. Hogben (1961-1973)

Charles Adrian Michael Hogben was born in 1921. He received his BS in 1941 and his M.D. in 1943 from The University of Wisconsin and went on to complete an internship in Philadelphia General Hospital. In 1950 he obtained a Ph.D. from Minnesota and worked from 1950-1951 in Zoophysiological Laboratory (Ussing), Copenhagen. In 1951-1957 he was a Medical Officer at the National Heart Institute in Bethesda, Maryland in Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism. Dr. Hogben served as Professor and Executive Officer in Physiology at George Washington University in Washington D.C. until he joined The University of Iowa as Professor and Head of the Physiology and Biophysics Department in 1961.

Dr. Hogben's goals were to: improve the quality of undergraduate teaching, revise the graduate program, and renovate the physical quarters of the Department, which were located in the Medical Laboratories Building. His first step in improving the quality of undergraduate teaching was the purchase of modern teaching equipment (Gilson Polygraphs, Radioactive isotope counters, and scalers), which was first used in the Medical Physiology course in the Spring of 1962.


Renovation of physical quarters included: teaching laboratories, office for departmental secretarial staff, a new office for the Department Head, and a new research lab for the Department Head.


In addition to renovation, the dominant concern of Dr. Hogben was the recruitment of senior faculty. The first important addition to the faculty was the appointment of Dr. F.P.J. Diecke as Professor in 1963. Also joining the department was Dr. Margaret Westecker.

Attempts to consolidate all teaching into three principal courses were made: Elementary, Intermediate and Advance, to avoid fragmentation. In the Graduate Program, beginning in 1963, an extramural examiner was included in the final thesis defense committee.


Dr. G. Edgar Folk Jr. was granted a leave of absence for one year to work at the Arctic Aeromedical Laboratory in Fairbanks Alaska, effective September 1, 1964.

At a faculty meeting concerning the open cardiovascular position on the Departmental Faculty, it was decided that the Department needed a respiration scientist more than it needed a cardiovascular one. It was voted to contact Dr. Jay Farber to fill the vacancy. On April 8, 1971, University of Iowa President Boyd approved Farber's appointment.

Changes were made in the Core Medical course 72:212 to emphasize human pathophysiology over general physiology. Participatory laboratory experiments were virtually abandoned, with the exception of an acute dog experiment.


On April 26, 1973 a dedication was held for the new Basic Sciences Building, Bowen Science Building, which continues to be the location of the Basic Science Departments.

Dr. C.A.M. Hogben resigned as Head of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics effective July 1, 1973. Dr. F.P.J. Diecke was appointed as Acting Head of the Department. An External Review Committee, made up of 19 people, was formed to review the state of affairs in the Department. After the completion of this project the committee acted as a Search Committee for a new head and was chaired by Dr. Michael Brody (Pharmacology).

An Internal Review Committee was created to review the administrative structure of the Department.

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Part V: 1974-Current


Dr. C.S. Vestling (Biochemistry) replaced Dr. Brody as Chairman of the Search Committee.

Dr. F.P.J. Diecke resigned as Acting Head of the Department to become Head of Physiology and Biophysics at the New Jersey School of Medicine and Dentistry at Newark, New Jersey. Dr. M.I. Phillips was appointed as new Acting Head of the Department.


Robert E. Fellows, M.D., Ph.D. was appointed as Head of the Department in 1976.

The Department purchased a DEC-VAX-1/780 computer. Its operating committee was appointed to The University Computer Operations Committee by Dean Spriestersbach.


Professor John N. Diana left Iowa in June to assume a new position as Head of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The interdisciplinary course Neurophysiology was abandoned. Drs. Helms and Fellows agreed to incorporate Endocrinology into the Medical Physiology course.


Dr. Robert E. Fellows stepped down as Head of the Department. Dr. Kevin P. Campbell was appointed as Interim Head.


Dr. Kevin P. Campbell was appointed as Head of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.


On August 9, 2006 the Iowa State Board of Regents approved changing the Department's name to the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.


The Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics completed an overhaul of the departmental website in February 2008. The website had not seen significant updates since it was first developed over 15 years earlier, when the department became one of the first departments within the University to have its own website.


The Department completed another overhaul of its website in August 2010 adding updated faculty pages and streamlining the code used in the website's design.

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