Media Advisory -- NAS Celebrates 150 Years of Service to the Nation


The National Academy of Sciences turns 150 on March 3 and will celebrate its anniversary throughout the year with a wide range of activities that commemorate our role in advancing science and building the nation.  Formed by a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863, the National Academy of Sciences was created in the midst of the Civil War to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art," as stated in the Academy's Act of Incorporation, whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.


Our Impact

Some of the Academy's earliest studies helped the war effort by advising how to improve the Union's naval fleet, and in the subsequent decades led to the creation of a national park system and the U.S. Geological Survey.  As science and technology began to play ever-increasing roles in national priorities and public life, the National Academy of Sciences eventually expanded to include the National Research Council in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970.  These private, nonprofit institutions draw on the expertise of top scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other distinguished individuals who volunteer their time to provide independent, authoritative advice on critical issues facing the nation and the world. 


Our studies have underpinned some of the nation's most important scientific milestones, from the national highway system to uniform nutritional guidelines to the United States' first Earth-orbiting satellite.  Recent reports on strengthening U.S. economic competitiveness and innovation, formulating a national response to climate change, and fighting the nation's obesity epidemic have helped shape sound policies and inform public opinion.


Covering the 150th Anniversary

Reporters interested in covering the history of the Academy and its role at the intersection of science and public policy can arrange interviews with NAS leaders and archivists or obtain more information by contacting the Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail