In March 1977 the Board of Directors of the Company of Biologists Ltd agreed, at the suggestion of Dr J. E. Treherne, to organize annually a scientific workshop to review knowledge and stimulate further research in an expanding topic of experimental biology. The Board decided that the proceedings of the workshop should be made available to all biologists as soon as possible and that the best way of achieving this objective would be the annual publication of a special review volume of the Journal of Experimental Biology. Thus it is with great pleasure that this pioneer volume of the journal, entitled Cellular Oscillators, has been produced. An enterprise of this type does not take place without the effort and resource of many people. Dr J. E. Treherne, Editor of the journal, and Mrs M. V. Clements undertook much of the administration for the meeting and Dr H. Schroeder arranged for his company, Karl Thomae GmbH, Stuttgart, to give financial support to the venture. The Board is most grateful to these people, to Karl Thomae GmbH and to each of the contributors to the meeting.

The Company of Biologists has rarely sought publicity and thus many biologists have little or no concept of the functions of the Company. Writing this foreword for Cellular Oscillators has also given an opportunity to explain briefly about the Company’s origins, organization and management. Through the efforts of G. P. Bidder, the Company was formed in 1925 as a limited liability company in order to acquire the new periodical, the British Journal of Experimental Biology. Later, in 1952, the Company was reorganized into a company limited by guarantee and so was recognized as a charity. By this time, the name of the British Journal had been changed to the Journal of Experimental Biology and the Company had also acquired the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, which became the Journal of Cell Science in 1966. In 1953 the first volume of the Journal of Embryology and Experimental Morphology was published for the Company. Currently, all the Company’s journals are printed and published by Cambridge University Press.

The members of the Company guarantee to make a limited contribution to the assets of the Company in the event of its being wound up. At the Annual General Meeting the members are able to discuss the annual report and accounts and they also elect or re-elect the Directors. There are about twenty Directors who are all active in biological research, teaching and administration and so have first-hand knowledge, both as authors and readers, of scientific publishing. The Board of Directors is responsible for appointing the Editors of the Company’s journals, but is excluded by the Company’s Articles from interfering with editorial policy. The Board is also entirely responsible for the efficient management of the Company, for the financial stability and reserves of the journals and for negotiating printing and publishing agreements. Latterly, the activities of the Board and its officers have led to the sponsorship of the George Bidder Lectures and the establishment of a Scientific and Educational Fund. The Company’s journals are now produced in hardback to save subscribers the costs of binding and 200 offprints are provided free for each paper published. Since its formation, the Company has always sought to improve the means of communication between scientists and to increase the circulation of results and opinions. The Directors very much hope that Cellular Oscillators and its successors will inform and interest an international readership.