Autonomic biology: From beheaded animals to a spate of nobel prizes

Gary S. Francis, W. H.W. Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autonomic biology grew slowly from puzzling observations made using crude techniques in the late 1800s. Its development was refined in the great universities of Cambridge and Oxford, but it was the financial strength of giant corporations and foundations, along with the development of new therapies' that moved the field forward. Talented biochemists, pharmacologists, and vascular and molecular biologists have made seminal contributions to our understanding of autonomic biology. The field is rich with Nobel laureates. Interdisciplinary teams were the rule and not the exception. Laboratory mishaps and small conferences also played an important role. The development of autonomic biology is a clear example of how basic and clinical science, academia and industry, and ultimately talent, have combined to enrich the field of medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalDialogues in Cardiovascular Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 18 2006


  • Autonomic dysfunction
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Heart failure
  • Neurohormonal activation
  • Vascular biology


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