National Academy of Sciences

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National Academy of Sciences,

with headquarters in Washington, D.C., a private organization of leading American scientists and engineers devoted to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. The Academy was founded in 1863; there are presently about 2,000 members. Members are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The Academy acts as an official adviser to the federal government on matters of science and technology. Separate sections of the Academy represent all of the physical and biological sciences and many of the social sciences. In 2004 the Academy added a science museum featuring exhibitions focused on topics of contemporary interest, e.g., global warming, gene sequencing.

National Academy of Sciences


(NAS) an American institution founded in 1863 by an act of Congress signed by President A. Lincoln.

In terms of its organization, the NAS is a scientific society whose principal goal is to facilitate the development of science on a nationwide scale. It functions as a consultative body on questions of science and technology for the American government and its numerous agencies. In its capacity as a consultant to the government on questions of technology, the NAS functions jointly with the National Academy of Engineering, which was established in 1964 in accordance with the charter of the NAS as a parallel organization having an independent membership and administration. The activity of both academies is conducted through the National Research Council (NRC), which was founded in 1916 and which as of 1972 had 380 members, chosen by the president of the NAS.

As of 1973, the NAS had 19 sections: mathematics, astronomy, physics, engineering, chemistry, geology, botany, zoology, physiology, microbiology, anthropology, psychology, geophysics, biochemistry, applied biology, applied physics and mathematics, medical sciences, genetics, and social, economic, and political sciences.

The work of the NAS is guided by its council. Between council sessions, its powers are transferred to the executive committee. Resolutions adopted by the council are ratified by the annual assembly. The NAS is financed by funds from the Ford, Rockefeller, Sloane, and National Science foundations.

The NAS has several committees that award medals in recognition of services in the development of various branches of the natural sciences and technology. For example, the J. Kimber Genetics Medal and the D. Elliot Medal in zoology and paleontology are awarded.

The NAS also includes a number of committees on various problems of science and technology (a committee for environmental protection and a committee on science, technology, and regional development). In 1970 the Institute of Medicine was organized. Specialized councils and committees have been established within the NAS to provide for cooperation with foreign countries and international organizations.

Since 1959 there has been an exchange of scientists and scholars between the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. As of 1972, NAS membership consisted of 940 American and 119 foreign scientists and scholars, including the following from the USSR: P. S. Aleksandrov, V. A. Ambartsumian, N. N. Bogoliubov, N. P. Dubinin, A. N. Frumkin, P. L. Kapitsa, A. N. Kolmogorov, and N. N. Semenov. The NAS has a publishing house and an information bureau. Its periodical publications include Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (since 1915) and News Reports (since 1951). The NAS also publishes individual scholarly works and monographs on timely problems of science and technology.


National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Engineering. National Research Council: Organization and Members, 1971–72. Washington, D.C., 1971.
National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Engineering. National Research Council: Annual Report, Fiscal Year 1968–69. Washington, D.C., 1972.


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The National Academies is comprised of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
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