Founding of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology®

Today’s American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP) has grown and evolved over the last 50 years. We take a lot for granted, but 50 years ago, the scientific environment was very different. Have you ever wondered how ACCP was founded and evolved into the society it is today?

The origins of modern clinical pharmacology can probably be traced to the early 1900's, with the emergence of technology for the efficient synthesis of organic chemicals in pure and sizeable quantities, the rise of the pharmaceutical industry and subsequent decrease in the use of herbal medicines. Government regulation of drug use, particularly the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, mandated drug safety and the 1962 Kefauver-Harris Amendment to the 1938 Act implemented requirements for drug efficacy and created a need to establish the efficacy of newly-introduced drugs. This focused attention on the qualifications and training of personnel to conduct these trials and emphasized the importance of the new, emerging discipline of clinical pharmacology. Many pharmacologists and clinicians are identified with pioneering efforts in establishing safety and efficacy of drugs via controlled clinical trials in humans.

The founding fathers of ACCP include Drs. Harry Gold (clinician and researcher in the Dept of Pharmacology at Cornell Medical College), McKeen Cattell (Chairman of the Dept of Pharmacology at Cornell) and Nathaniel T. Kwit (clinician at Cornell). Drs. Gold, Cattell and Kwit carried out important clinical investigations, including both animal and human subjects, which established a firm basis for the efficacy of digitalis glycosides in congestive heart failure. They also provided strong evidence that the use of xanthines in human angina pectoris was without merit.

Dr. Duncan E. Hutcheon, faculty in Pharmacology at the New Jersey College of Medicine, also played a key role in founding ACCP. Dr. Hutcheon recognized the need for an organization primarily devoted to increasing knowledge and developing high standards for the emerging discipline of clinical pharmacology as it related to drug therapy. He felt that this organization should serve the needs of many diverse workers in the field, including those with varying biomedical degrees, training and background who shared a common interest in the basis of rational drug therapy.

During this same time, Dr. Benjamin Calesnick, a clinician, teacher and researcher who was on the faculty of the Dept of Pharmacology at Hahnemann Medical College and Director of its Section of Human Pharmacology, was engaged in efforts to establish teaching programs within schools of medicine designed to help train clinical investigators involved in human drug studies. His vision was to educate qualified, well-trained investigators who were familiar with the evolving regulatory environment and he proposed board certification in clinical pharmacology. While all of this seems very logical now, in the 1960s, the field of clinical pharmacology was considered by some to be too young and undeveloped for such initiatives. Others, however, embraced these ideas.

On September 11, 1969, Drs. McKeen Cattell, Harry Gold, Duncan Hutcheon, Nathaniel Kwit and Philip Reichert formed and legally incorporated the American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP) in Washington, DC. The Articles of Incorporation list Drs. Duncan E. Hutcheon, McKeen Cattell and Harry Gold as the initial Board of Directors. The objectives of ACCP were listed as "to promote and advance the science of clinical pharmacology and chemotherapy in all its phases, to establish high standards of clinical investigation in this field of endeavor, to issue publications for these purposes and to engage in other appropriate educational efforts." The first recorded meeting minutes of the newly incorporated ACCP were those of an Executive Committee meeting on November 13, 1969, held at the office of Dr. Harry Gold in New York City. Dr. Hutcheon emphasized the importance of establishing a leadership role for ACCP to meet the critical problems of drug therapy in man. It was imperative that ACCP promote curricular planning for pharmacology courses in schools of medicine, which, at the time, had been adversely affected by the sweeping tide of curricular reforms in the 1960's.

Membership categories were listed as Member, Associate Fellow, Fellow and Honorary Fellow. At that time, only Fellows were entitled to all the privileges of ACCP, including holding office and voting for officers. It was agreed that the letters "FCP" would represent the high standards expected of ACCP Fellows. In our contemporary ACCP, the goal is inclusiveness and we are proud to welcome Members from across the spectrum of career stages from undergraduate students to Retired & Emeritus colleagues.

The objectives for ACCP submitted at the next meeting of the Boardstressed establishing a role for clinical pharmacology as a professional entity, promoting education, training and research in the field and sponsoring a publication having a major interest in clinical pharmacology. The group moved forward to develop the initial Constitution and By-Laws.

In establishing a goal of inclusiveness that exists to this day, it was noted that ACCP should not be restricted towards any specific group of scientists, stressing the importance of recruiting basic pharmacologists and those with experience in biostatistics. Today, the membership of ACCP includes MDs, PharmDs, PhDs, graduate and undergraduate colleagues serving in roles from research and drug development to patient care and the breadth of affiliations including academia, regulatory, industry, consulting and clinical settings. The membership of ACCP is truly global and interprofessional and welcomes all who are interested in advancing the discipline of clinical pharmacology.

In expanding on the original goal to provide education, ACCP is currently accredited by both the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education to provide CME and CPE Credits for continuing education activities. In addition to the exceptional scientific program presented at the ACCP Annual Meeting, ACCP also provides Live and On Demand webinars and text-based Journal CE. ACCP remains true to its original goal of providing high-quality educational programming to educate all healthcare professionals with an interest in clinical pharmacology.

For more information on the history of ACCP please visit the pages below:

The ACCP Journals
How ACCP provides the right benefits to enhance your career! How ACCP is Transforming Education in the Clinical Pharmacology Community
ACCP 25 Year History | 1969 - 1994
ACCP Past Officers
ACCP Past Board of Regents
Recognition Award Winners
Previous Student Award Winners
ACCP Honor Wall Donation