ASCPT History

A group of 20 physicians met in Washington, DC on May 1, 1900 to form the American Therapeutic Society (ATS). Their mission was to promote the advancement of rational therapeutics through “the application of any method or agency which might ameliorate, cure, or prevent disease.” Dr. Francis E. Stewart served as the organizational chairman. Dr. Horatio C. Wood, an internationally recognized pioneer physician, scientist, educator, and author from Philadelphia was elected as the Society’s first president. During the first quarter century, ATS was a society of progressive physicians focused on creating a more rational body of therapeutics, grounded on scientific problem solving and empirical observation. Therapeutics was equally important to diagnosis. Standardization and regulation of pharmaceuticals and the expulsion of quackery were of prime concern. During the second quarter century, the emergence of synthetic pharmaceuticals and an expanding choice of “methods and agencies” available for the cure and prevention of disease made a significant impact on Society members.

From its early formation to World War II, the structure and culture of ATS essentially remained the same. The society was comprised exclusively of physicians in search of an expanded arsenal to combat and conquer disease. During the 1930s to 1950s, the sons of early leaders frequently carried on the traditions established during the Society’s formative years.

From the beginning, therapeutics (and later clinical pharmacology) has functioned as a bridge between the art and the science of medicine; between medicine, pharmacy, and the allied sciences.

Roots for becoming a modern organization started after World War II with the birth of clinical pharmacology as a discipline. In the mid-1950s, William B. Rawls and his successors began a movement to modernize the Society by strengthening the scientific programming at the Annual Meeting and establishing new committees that became the forerunners of today’s Networks and Communities. Early committees included Medical Education and Research, Budget, and Public Relations. By 1969, 12 committees were in place, including Planning, the Committee on Investigation of Drugs, the Committee on Qualitative Methodology, and the Scientific Awards Committee.

The Lewis Harvie Taylor Lecture began during the 1952 meeting and continued until 1969. The award was initiated to sponsor an outstanding investigator in therapeutics in the ATS Annual Meeting program. In 1955, Dr. Jonas Salk was the first recipient of the Oscar B. Hunter Memorial Award, which was established to recognize an individual scientist for outstanding contributions to clinical pharmacology and therapeutics.

ATS Transactions ceased publication in 1952. The following year, Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. editor of ATS Transactions since 1940 and President in 1952-53, arranged for the ATS scientific proceedings to be published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. This continued until 1960 when Dr. Walter Modell published Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, which the Society adopted as its official journal.

Building on the legacy of committee and organizational restructuring (particularly in establishing the ASCPT office), the merger of ATS and ASCPC (American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Chemotherapy) had two major impacts: a change in the Society’s decision-making process; and the advent of the Committee for Coordination of Scientific Sections. In the new structure, the President and Executive Committee, working through the Board of Directors, made the executive decisions.

Following several years of enhancements, the Society launched ambitious initiatives in every facet of its program, especially annual meetings, medical education, scientific awards, certification, regulatory monitoring and the journal. During the 1970's and 1980's, necessary adjustments were made, providing a strong foundation for exceptional growth from the middle of the 1980s on for:

  • Membership: Growth of numbers and diversity. Growth and acceptance of pharmacists and other doctorally prepared scientists.
  • Scientific Awards: Expansion to include the Elliott, Rawls-Palmer, Goldberg, and Abrams awards.
  • Education: Broadened to include other professions.
  • Governmental affairs: Increasing ASCPT's visibility in FDA and legislative and public policy activity.
  • Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics: Succession of Marcus Reidenberg, MD, and June Reidenberg into editorial leadership positions. Expansion to monthly publication. Perceived as premier professional journal in the field. Growing international status.


By the mid-1990s, the Society had experienced significant changes and growth, including a new constitution and bylaws, a newly established scientific structure, and many enhancements in the Annual Meeting. A new generation of leadership had emerged that had only known the post-merger Society. In 1998, the first ASCPT Strategic Plan was created under the leadership of Carl Peck, MD, and ASCPT again found itself going through a variety of changes including:
  • In 1999, Sharon Swan, CAE, FASAE, was named Executive Director and moved the Society’s office to the Washington D.C. area to enhance communications, involvement, and visibility. The ASCPT office was later purchased in September 2003 and has since undergone extensive renovations to accommodate the growing needs of the Society.
  • ASCPT purchased Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics in 2001, and in 2006, Scott A. Waldman, MD, PhD, was selected as Editor-in-Chief of the journal. Under Dr. Waldman’s leadership, the journal transitioned to publisher John Wiley & Sons, selected a new editorial team and added new content and color to the journal. In 2019 Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics underwent a leadership transition when Scott Waldman, MD, PhD, completed a more than decade-long editorship of the journal and Piet H. van der Graaf, PhD, PharmD, was named the new Editor-in-Chief and appointed a new team of associate editors.
  • In 2012 ASCPT launched the online only Open Access journal CPT: Pharmacometrics & Systems Pharmacology under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief, Piet H. van der Graaf, PhD, PharmD. In 2019 France Mentré, PhD, was appointed the new Editor-in-Chief of the journal.
  • In 2016 ASCPT began publishing the online-only Open Access journal Clinical and Translational Science as part of its publication family under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief, John A. Wagner, MD, PhD.
  • In 2021, ASCPT released a statement that reaffirms the Society’s commitment to fostering an environment of Diversity, Equity.
  • In 2022 Sharon Swan, CAE, FASAE, retired as Chief Executive Officer of the Society after 24 years of service and ASCPT welcomed Abigail. W. Gorman, MBA, as its new Chief Executive Officer in January 2023
A new 2020-2025 Strategic Plan is in place that focuses on the five strategic goals of enhancing career growth, stimulating scientific advancements, expanding patient-focused engagement, diversifying learning experiences, and providing exemplary value. ASCPT’s program structure is dynamic, ambitious, and field-tested. Its leadership is vibrant and open to new ideas and spheres of influence. The Society’s membership grows yearly and is increasingly diversified. The Society continues to grow internationally as well as within the United States.

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