Edmund Vincent Cowdry and the Making of Gerontology as a Multidisciplinary Scientific Field in the United States

Journal of the History of Biology 41 (3):529 - 572 (2008)
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Abstract

The Canadian-American biologist Edmund Vincent Cowdry played an important role in the birth and development of the science of aging, gerontology. In particular, he contributed to the growth of gerontology as a multidisciplinary scientific field in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. With the support of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, he organized the first scientific conference on aging at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where scientists from various fields gathered to discuss aging as a scientific research topic. He also edited Problems of Ageing (1939), the first handbook on the current state of aging research, to which specialists from diverse disciplines contributed. The authors of this book eventually formed the Gerontological Society in 1945 as a multidisciplinary scientific organization, and some of its members, under Cowdry's leadership, formed the International Association of Gerontology in 1950. This article historically traces this development by focusing on Cowdry's ideas and activities. I argue that the social and economic turmoil during the Great Depression along with Cowdry's training and experience as a biologist – cytologist in particular – and as a textbook editor became an important basis of his efforts to construct gerontology in this direction.

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Hyung Park
Hallym University

Citations of this work

'Population laboratories' or 'laboratory populations'? Making sense of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, 1965–1987.Tiago Moreira & Paolo Palladino - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (3):317-327.
‘Population laboratories’ or ‘laboratory populations’? Making sense of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, 1965–1987.Tiago Moreira & Paolo Palladino - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (3):317-327.
Senescence, Growth, and Gerontology in the United States.Hyung Wook Park - 2013 - Journal of the History of Biology 46 (4):631-667.

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