Since the dawn of civilisation, man has been fascinated by the physiology of animals. From Aristotle to August Krogh, understanding how organisms function and interact with their environments has lain at the heart of physiology. Early in the history of science, animal studies were mainly undertaken to inform our understanding of human physiology. Since then, curiosity about the mechanisms that permit animals to occupy almost every environmental niche has established the comparative approach as a cornerstone of physiology, and more recent developments have seen the emergence of evolutionary, ecological and environmental physiology and their guiding impact on international conservation policy.

The International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) holds its international congress every four years. Following on from successful conferences in San Diego, USA, in 2005 and Kyoto, Japan, in 2009, the union is hosting the next congress, IUPS 2013, at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, UK, from 21 to 26 July 2013 ( to discuss recent developments in research, teaching and training in the physiological sciences.

The IUPS wishes to invite all members of the worldwide international physiological community to contribute to the development of the diverse and balanced scientific program that they hope to present in Birmingham. Although The Journal of Experimental Biology does not usually promote specific meetings, the authors of this article, who are members of the International Scientific Program Committee for the congress, particularly wish to draw the 37th ICPS to the attention of the integrative physiology community, to ensure strong representation of the comparative approach in the congress program. Nominations for symposia submissions are requested from 1 September to 1 December 2011 and the preliminary scientific program will be published by 1 April 2012. Animal physiologists and members of the comparative physiology community are warmly encouraged to submit proposals for consideration.

The organising committee hopes to attract cutting-edge state-of-the-art symposia to inspire the next generation of young comparative physiologists and to foster new collaborations between scientists and communities that may not normally have the opportunity to interact. The IUPS is also committed to supporting scientists and teachers from less-developed countries, where physiological education programs are under development, with the aim of building supportive networks with better-established institutions. In light of both of these objectives, the committee has an extensive program to subsidise the participation of young people in the congress, providing bursaries for students that have contributed to work presented at the meeting and making grants available for delegates from less-developed countries that wish to attend.

Given the unique insight that the comparative approach offers for the understanding of animal function in an organismal and conservation context, we hope that the comparative community will continue to uphold the strong record of contributions from animal physiologists at IUPS Congresses over the past decade. We therefore invite integrative biologists the world over to propose innovative Symposia and Satellite Symposium meetings to ensure a strong presence of comparative physiology at the 2013 IUPS Congress in Birmingham, UK.