|John Edsall and Hanoch Gutfreund's 1983 book on biothermodynamics which discusses the history and biological processes of thermodynamics; theoretical aspects of thermodynamic principles which aid in understanding biochemical processes; and the interpretation of data obtained from biochemical reactions, ligand binding, and calorimetric measurements on biological systems. |
In 1940, Ludwig Bertalanffy, in his “Theoretical Biology” (Ѻ), stated the following argument, of which only the first part is correct:
“The new thermodynamics shows that it is necessary not only for biological theory to be based upon physics, but also that biological points of view can open new pathways in physical theory as well.”The mechanical equivalent of heat, e.g., is not going to change because of new "biological points of view".
In 1976, Israeli cellular membrane transport scientist S. Roy Caplan, penned a chapter on “biothermodynamics” (Ѻ), which he generally meant as the study of energetics of coupling mechanism across membranes. (Ѻ)
In 1977, biothermodynamics was being defined as follows: (Ѻ)
“We are considering the state of thermodynamic data referring to and useful in the various branches of the life sciences. For short we can refer to this as biothermodynamics.”
In 1983, John Edsall and Hanoch Gutfreund, in their Biothermodynamics, employed the term biothermodynamics as the study of biochemical processes INSIDE a biological entity, e.g. cell, or organism, and related processes of thermodynamics; theoretical aspects of thermodynamic principles which aid in understanding biochemical processes; and the interpretation of data obtained from biochemical reactions, ligand binding, and calorimetric measurements on biological systems. 
A classic example of the use of thermodynamics in the study of animated systems (biological systems), supposedly, is Wyman’s theory of linked functions. Topics include the study of and estimation of the thermodynamic parameters of specific protein-protein, protein-DNA, and small molecule interactions. 
In 1987, the annual "Gibbs Conference on Biothermodynamics" was launched which has focused on research, theory, and attempts to understand how ligand binding, subunit assembly and conformational change drive what we observe as physiological processes such as regulated transport, enzyme cascades, gene regulation, membrane permeability, viral infection, intracellular trafficking and folding of macromolecules.
The field of biothermodynamics is now said to be thoroughly integrated with the study of macromolecular structures, computational modeling and physiological studies of human health and disease. 
See main: Thermodynamics (naming)The term 'biothermodynamics' is loosely synonymous with biochemical thermodynamics, biological thermodynamics, and bioenergetics, although each seems to have a subtle difference, the first focusing on the thermodynamics of biochemical reactions, the second on protein-protein interactions, and the latter on energy (first law) balancing involved cell membrane transport phenomena, in short.
Difficulties | Terminology
Correctly, to note, all subjects are classified under the auspices of "animate thermodynamics" (see: defunct theory of life), being that the Greek prefix "-bio", such as pictured adjacent, is representative of religious-mythology, but not something that exists in modern physical science.
1. (a) Johnson, Michael L, Holtz, Jo M., and Ackers, Gary K. (2009). Biothermodynamics, Part 1. Academic Press.
(b) Johnson, Michael L, Holtz, Jo M., and Ackers, Gary K. (2009). Biothermodynamics, Part 2. Academic Press.
2. Edsall, John T. and Gutfreund, Hanoch. (1983). Biothermodynamics: the Study of Biochemical Processes at Equilibrium. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
3. Shea, Madeline A., Correia, John J., and Brenowitz, Michael D. (2011). “Introduction: Twenty five years of the Gibbs Conference on Biothermodynamics” (abs), Biophysical Chemistry, 159(1): 1-5.
● Ackers, Gary and Bolen Wayne. (1997). “The Gibbs Conference on Biothermodynamics: Origins and Evolution.” Biophysical Chemistry, 64: 3-5.
● Kennedy, Ivan R. (2001). Action in Ecosystems: Biothermodynamics for Sustainability. Research Studies Press.