such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
Despite the discoveries of Pfeffer, Bunting, Aschoff, and others, chronobiology did not really begin to coalesce as a distinct discipline until the 1960s.6 In part, according to Reinberg and Smolensky, this was because chronobiology lacked some of the attributes that help a field establish its own identity. For example, until recently chronobiology was not taught in schools as a subject in its own right, and no departments or chairs of chronobiology existed. This meant that those who studied chronobiology necessarily came to the subject from other fields, often by accident. As a result, the authors write, “the number of active and well-trained chronobiologists was quite small.’‘ 6 Again, until recently, there were few scholarly societies devoted to chronobiology, which may have hampered communication between the widely scattered members of the chronobiologicai community.
It is often believed that the true emergence of a specialty is hampered by a lack of journals focused on that field. Untii recently no joumals devoted exclusively to chronobiology were being published. In this respect, it is worth quoting Victor A. McKusick28 and Frank H. Ruddle, editors-in-chief of Genomics, on their justification for launching a new journal. In an editoriai in the first issue, they said that they viewed the journal “as a common meeting ground for molecular biologists and biochemists, human and somatic cell geneticists, cytogeneticists, population and evolutionary biologists, genetic epidemiologists, clinical geneticists, theoretical biologists, and computational scientists, all interested in the biology and genetics of human and other complex genomes." 29 However, not every field best serves itself by jumping into separate publication. As long as the most important articles remain in the bigger, multidisciplinary journals, the smaller, new journals will have a tough time.
Since the 1960s, however, several changes have begun to take place that have enabled chronobiology to gain recognition and influence as a discipline in its own right. Three journals that report solely on chronobiological research, the Internutioncd Journal of Chronobiofogy, Chrorwbiologia, and Chronobiology Itiemutional, have been founded. Table 1 lists these and other journals in which chronoblologists publish. The Society for the Study of Biological Rhythm, founded in 1937 but relatively dormant until 1953, changed its name to the International Society for Chronobiology in 1971 and has been highly active ever since. Other scholarly societies and associations that promote chronoblological research are listed in Table 2.
A favorable intellectual climate also played a role in helping to establish chronobiology as a distinct discipline. Reinberg and Smolensky refer to the 1960s as the “golden age of molecular biology” and note that it coincided with a flowering of chronobiological research. 6 In part, they say, the emergence of cbronobiology was aided by the burgeoning interest of molecular biologists in cellular periodicities. At the same time, as both a cause and an interactive result of this heightened interest, new statistical approaches for detecting and measuring biological periodicities were being developed. These were especially useful in studying ultradian rhythms, which include cycles that range from a fraction of a second to a fraction of a day.
Pittendrigh organized a symposium at CoId Spring Harbor, New York, in 1960 to address the standards that chronobiology had to meet to develop further as a modem, quantitative biological science.6 Among the topics discussed were more rigorous methods of data sampling and gathering and statistical amdysis.24, 26, 30 The 1960 paper Pittendrigh wrote for the symposium, entitled “Circadian rhythms and the circadian organization of living systems,’ ’26 is his most-cited work. This Citation Classic has been cited in over 450 works.
This symposium and the subsequent activity and debate that surrounded the establishment of chronobiology as a discipline have been the objects of considerable interest among historians and sociologists of science, according to Alberto Cambrosio and Peter Keating, Institute of History and Sociopolitics of Science, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.31 We discussed some of the characteristics of the emergence of a new discipline in a previous essay on biomedical engineering. 32
As a result of the founding of journals and societies and advances in techniques, the number of researchers engaged in chronobiology and, consequently, the number of papers concerning various aspects of it have greatly increased since the 1960s. This has enabled chronobiologists to produce what Reinberg and Smolens& call “a critical mass of experimental evidence” that has overcome previous theories that” slowed or inhibited the advance of chronobiologic hypotheses and concepts. “6
These theories included the idea, taught to “generations of students, ” as Reinberg and Smolensky note, that the regulatory mechanisms of biological systems are processes that attempt to maintain a constant, or steady, state, called homeostasis. Although Reinberg and Smolensky do not discount the importance of homeostatic regulatory mechanisms, they point out that the body’s “set points” fluctuate within a narrow range in a distinct rhythm. Such physiological phenomem as the levels of plasma cortisol, testosterone, circulating Iymphoeytes, and blood pressure and body temperature, to mention just a few, vary in predictable rhythms over a 24-hour period.6
This concludes our discussion of the development of chronobiology as a distinct discipline. In Part 2 of this essay, we will describe current chronobiology research.
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