A brief history of the Serbian physiology and Serbian Physiological Society

Physiology together with zoology and anatomy became a part of the university curriculum in Belgrade (Serbia) since 1873 and made by Josif Pancic (Serbian botanist of a Croatian descent who relinquished his Austro-Hungarian citizenship and changed his given name after he converted to Orthodoxy). He was acquainted with the Serbian linguist Vuk Stefanovic Karadžic in Vienna who convinced him to settle in the Principality of Serbia, still under nominal Ottoman suzerainty, in 1846. He was the first president of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts founded on April 5th, 1887. The pioneering work in physiology, before the First World War was done by Ivan Djaja (or Jean Giaja, 1884-1957) that had a remarkable scientific career in Belgrade.

In 1909, he got his doctoral degree in physiology from Sorbonne University, Paris. From 1910 to 1957, he lived in Belgrade where he was a founder and chairman of the Department of Physiology Faculty of Philosophy (established the first department of physiology among south Slavs in 1910). Two short Balkan wars, World World I, and World War II interrupted his work. Trained in France, Djaja spent almost 50 years working at the University of Belgrade. The worst period for him was the period of German occupation, 1941-1945.

Djaja suffered like many Serbian intellectuals, and he was imprisoned for some time in the Banjica Concentration Camp. He was internationally recognized for his contribution to the understanding of thermoregulation and of hibernation. After the First World War Richard Burian (who was university professor of the physiology in Leipzig) transferred to Belgrade and established Department of Physiology at the School of Medicine University of Belgrade in 1920. He was born in Vienna on Jan. 8, 1871, worked in Vienna, Leipzig, Naples and Belgrade, still there in 1935, until he went to the U.S. and died on April 6, 1954 in Iowa City. His assistants and colleagues, Ilija Djuricic and Milutin Neskovic, continued his scientific work so that Ilija Djuricic established physiological departments at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Faculty of Pharmacy while Milutin Neskovic made a progress at the Department of Physiology School of Medicine University of Belgrade.
In addition Serbian Physiological Society - DFS, was founded in Belgrade in 1951 (founder Milutin Neskovic), as a section of former Yugoslav Physiological Association (after that named Yugoslav Physiological Society – JDF or Union of Yugoslav Physiological Societies - SDFJ). On the occasion of inauguration of the Institute of Pathophysiology, Medical School in Ljubljana (Slovenia), a meeting of physiologists from Yugoslavia was organized (October 4-6, 1955). The question of a formal organization of physiologists was raised on this occasion and the date of this event was recognized as the birthday of the Yugoslav Physiological Society. Yugoslav Physiological Society had chapters in each of six consisted Yugoslav republics. Since 1961 Yugoslav Physiological Society was a member of International Union of Physiological Societies (IUPS), joined the Union of Biological Societies of Yugoslavia in 1962, and then started with publishing Yugoslavica Physiologica et Pharmacologica Acta.

During the 3rd Congress of Federation of European Physiological Societies (FEPS) (on July 1st 2003, Nice, France) Serbian Physiological Society was accepted to be regular member of FEPS. IUPS General Assembly accepted Serbian Physiological Society as Adhering Body of IUPS during XXXV IUPS Congress in San Diego, US on March 31, 2005. In 2005 International Society for Pathophysiology (ISP) accepted Serbian Physiological Society as a regular member of ISP.