National Academy of Sciences
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the NAS has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters.
It carries out its work largely through committees of pro bono experts who employ an evidence-based, deliberative process to produce scientifically valid, nonpartisan reports. Studies originate in several ways: by Congress mandating that a federal executive branch agency contract with the NAS; by direct request of executive branch agencies, private foundations, or other private organizations; or as self-initiated projects when the academy determines that an important or highly sensitive issue might not be the subject of a request from an outside organization. Last, in addition to committee studies, NAS plays a unique convening role by sponsoring workshops, roundtables, symposiums, forums, and other activities that enable parties on all sides of an issue to come together and discuss problems and solutions in a neutral, unbiased setting. Dr. Bruce Alberts is the current president of the National Academy of Sciences.
Members and foreign associates of the academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer. The academy membership is comprised of approximately 1,900 members and 300 foreign associates, of whom more than 170 have won Nobel Prizes.
The academy is governed by a council comprised of twelve members. The Council is responsible to the membership for the activities under-taken by the organization and for the corporate management the National Academy of Sciences, a corporation created by an act of Congress that also includes the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and the National Research Council (NRC). It has delegated the governance of the National Research Council to the NRC Governing Board, which includes members of the Councils of the NAS, NAE, and IOM.
The full text of National Academy of Sciences publications is available online at the National Academy Press web site, www.nap.edu. Additional information about the institute and its activities, as well as a list of all publications, can be found at http://www.national-academies.org.
KENNETH I. SHINE