Teaching of anatomy, histology and physiology was the basis of medicine since the inception of the Medical Department at the Syrian Protestant College in 1967, now known as Faculty of Medicine at the American University of Beirut. The Arab version of the textbooks of anatomy (التوضيح في علم التشريح) and of physiology (أصول الفيسيولوجيا) by John Wortabet (one of the founders of the Medical School) written in the early 1870s, constituted a landmark in the history of Arabization of modern science.
These disciplines were later re-organized into three separate departments: Anatomy and Embryology, Histology and Neuroanatomy, and Physiology, in the year 1926 and were hosted in the Van Dyck building since 1930; They were moved to the new DTS building of the Faculty of Medicine in 1975 and occupied the basement and the first and second floors. In 1967, the Departments of Anatomy and Histology were merged together into the Department of Human Morphology that was chaired by Dr. Adel Afifi till the year 1985. This new Department was responsible for teaching anatomy, embryology, neuroanatomy, cell biology and histology.
As a result of the recent restructuring of the basic medical sciences, the Departments of Human Morphology and Physiology were merged together in 2010 under the new Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiology.
In 2014, Dr. Nayef E. Saadé, the Department Chair, announced his intent to resign his post. A search committee, appointed by Executive Vice President and FM Dean Mohamed H. Sayegh, conducted an international search and selected Dr. Elie D. Al-Chaer in 2015 as the new Chair. The year 2015 was a year of transition and renewal for the department. The department has taken a number of initiatives to restructure, modernize and streamline its academic operations, expand the personnel base and establish a faculty development program to provide mentoring and career counseling to junior faculty. In 2016, the department held a strategic retreat that helped bring focus to faculty efforts and highlight its strengths and needs.