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A prerequisite for well-posedness of parameter estimation of biological and physiological systems is a priori global identifiability, a property which concerns uniqueness of the solution for the unknown model parameters. Assessing a priori global identifiability is particularly difficult for nonlinear dynamic models. Various approaches have been proposed in the literature but no solution exists in the general case. Here, the authors present a new algorithm for testing global identifiability of nonlinear dynamic models, based on differential algebra. The characteristic set associated to the dynamic equations is calculated in an efficient way and computer algebra techniques are used to solve the resulting set of nonlinear algebraic equations. The algorithm is capable of handling many features arising in biological system models, including zero initial conditions and time-varying parameters. Examples of usage of the algorithm for analyzing a priori global identifiability of nonlinear models of biological and physiological systems are presented.