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News from the National Academies

Date:  Nov. 19, 2008

Contacts:  Maureen O'Leary, Director of Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail

Ann Merchant, Director of Outreach and Marketing

202-334-3117; e-mail

Yusef Robb, Griffin Schake

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NAS Announces Initiative to Connect Entertainment Industry With Top Experts


LOS ANGELES -- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced today the creation of "The Science and Entertainment Exchange," an initiative designed to connect entertainment industry professionals with top scientists and engineers to help the creators of television shows, films, video games, and other productions incorporate science into their work.  The Exchange represents the Academy's first formal effort to reach out to the entertainment community and provide the creative minds of Hollywood with a direct connection to the creative minds of science. 


"Television and film can involve the public in the latest advances in science, medicine, and technology," said NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone.  "By building strong connections between the entertainment and science communities, we're hoping to provide an important service to both Hollywood and the viewing public."


Director Jerry Zucker and his wife, producer Janet Zucker, actively support the initiative.  "The Exchange will provide filmmakers with an invaluable connection to scientific truth, but more importantly, we will have the ability to invent and explore the unknown with the great visionaries of science," said Jerry.  Janet Zucker added, "The Exchange will provide a place where scientific and artistic minds can come together to inspire each other, building a two-way street for both communities to learn and create."


Relying on the special connections available to the NAS, the Exchange can make introductions, schedule briefings, and arrange for consultations for anyone developing science-based entertainment content.  Endorsed by the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, and Women in Film, this new resource is being promoted to all levels of writers, directors, producers, and others in the entertainment industry.  Professionals involved in the creative process may contact the Exchange to be connected with scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts for help with their productions and stories.


As science and technology have become staples of American television, the bar has been raised for better and more accurate science.  Forensic investigation and medical shows such as CSI, House, and ER routinely incorporate cutting-edge science into their scripts.  Studio films similarly capitalize on science themes.  Movies such as Children of Men, Mission Impossible, Déjà Vu, and A Beautiful Mind enlisted some aspect of science and technology to help tell their stories, while others like Iron Man, Minority Report, Watchmen, and the Star Trek series depend very heavily on a foundation of science.


Today, the Exchange was formally introduced to the Hollywood community during a symposium attended by entertainment industry professionals in Los Angeles.  Hosted by writer and producer Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy), the symposium attracted more than 300 participants including writers, directors, producers, production designers and executives, as well as scientists, engineers, and health professionals.  Sessions were divided into six topic areas: climate change and energy; astronomy and cosmology; genomics; artificial intelligence and robotics; rare and infectious diseases; and the brain and mind.  The symposium was funded by the National Academy of Sciences; CuresNow founding members Lucy Fisher, Doug Wick, and Janet and Jerry Zucker; Davis Masten and Christopher Ireland; Bob and Anne James; the California Endowment in partnership with Hollywood, Health & Society; and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


The director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange is Jennifer Ouellette, an author and science writer.  "Tapping into the NAS' database of experts will be a tremendous resource for Hollywood," she said.  "Our goal is to bridge the gap between engaging content and science."  The Exchange will be based in Los Angeles.  For more information, contact Ouellette at or 310-570-6803, or visit  A list of advisory board members follows.


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[ This news release is available at ] 







Ralph J. Cicerone, Chair


National Academy of Sciences


Janet Zucker, Vice Chair



Jerry Zucker, Vice Chair



Patrick Soon-Shiong, Vice Chair

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Abraxis Bioscience Inc. and

The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation


Len Amato


HBO Films


Paula Apsell

Senior Executive Producer

NOVA; and


WGBH Science Unit


Dave Bartis



Gregory Benford

Professor of Physics

University of California, Irvine


May Berenbaum

Professor of Entomology

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Adam Bly

Founder and Publisher



Clark Bunting

President and General Manager

Emerging Networks

Discovery Communications


Rick Carter

Production Designer


Steve Chu


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Professor of Physics and of Molecular and

Cell Biology

University of California, Berkeley; and

1997 Nobel Prize winner in Physics


Frank Darabont

Writer, Producer, and Director


Keith Devlin

Executive Director

Center for the Study of Language and Information,


Consulting Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University


Jon Farhat




Anthony Fauci


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


Sid Ganis



Julie Gerberding


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Neil Gershenfeld


Center for Bits and Atoms

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Ronald Graham

Professor of Computer Science and


University of California, San Diego; and

Chief Scientist

California Institute for Telecommunications and

Information Technology


Brian Greene

Professor of Mathematics and Physics

Columbia University


Davis Guggenheim

Director and Producer


Robert M. Hazen

Research Scientist

Carnegie Institution for Science’s Geophysical

Laboratory; and

Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science  

George Mason University


Dudley Herschbach

Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science

Harvard University; and

1986 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry


Marshall Herskovitz

Producer, Writer, and Director


Dustin Hoffman

Actor and Producer


Marty Kaplan

Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media, and


Annenberg School for Communication

University of Southern California; and


The Norman Lear Center


Lawrence Kasdan

Director, Writer, and Producer


Jeffrey Koplan

Vice President for Academic Health Affairs

Woodruff Health Sciences Center

Emory University


Lawrence Krauss


School of Earth and Space Exploration

Arizona State University


Sherry Lansing


Sherry Lansing Foundation


Leon Lederman

Director Emeritus

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; and

Pritzker Professor of Science

Illinois Institute of Technology; and

1988 Nobel Prize winner in Physics


Doug Liman

Producer and Director


Seth MacFarlane

Writer, Actor, and Producer


Alex McDowell

Production Designer


Marvin Minsky

Professor of Computer Science and Media Arts and


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Sidney Perkowitz

Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics

Emory University


Steven Pinker

Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology

Harvard University


Stanley Prusiner

Professor of Neurology, and

Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative


University of California, San Francisco; and

1997 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine


Rob Reiner

Actor, Producer, Writer, and Director


John Rennie

Editor in Chief

Scientific American


Jay Roach

Director, Writer, and Producer


Bruce Joel Rubin



Oliver Sacks

Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry

Columbia University Medical Center


Barbara Schaal

Vice President

National Academy of Sciences; and

Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology, and


Schaal Lab

Washington University


Tom Schulman



Jeffrey Silver



Anne E. Simon


Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics

University of Maryland, College Park


Alex Singer



Robert Sproull

Vice President and Sun Fellow

Sun Microsystems Inc.


John Underkoffler


Oblong Industries


J. Craig Venter


J. Craig Venter Institute


Doron Weber

Director for Public Understanding of Science and

Technology and the History of Science and


Alfred P. Sloan Foundation




Ann Merchant

Director of Outreach and Marketing

National Academies Press