General Science, Mathematics, and Technology

Societies, Publications, and Awards

What was the first national science institute?

On March 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed a congressional charter creating the National Academy of Sciences, which stipulated that “the Academy shall, whenever called upon by any department of the government, investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art, the actual expense of such investigations, examinations, experiments, and reports to be paid from appropriations which may be made for the purpose, but the Academy shall receive no compensation whatever for any services to the Government of the United States.” The Academy’s first president was Alexander Dallas Bache (1806–1867). Today, the Academy and its sister organizations—the National Academy of Engineering, established in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine, established in 1970—serve as the country’s preeminent sources of advice on science and technology and their bearing on the nation’s welfare.

The National Research Council was established in 1916 by the National Academy of Sciences at the request of President Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) “to bring into cooperation existing governmental, educational, industrial and other research organizations, with the object of encouraging the investigation of natural phenomena, the increased use of scientific research in the development of American industries, the employment of scientific methods in strengthening the national defense, and such other applications of science as will promote the national security and welfare.”

The National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine work through the National Research Council of the United States, one of world’s most important advisory bodies. More than 6,000 scientists, engineers, industrialists, and health and other professionals participating in numerous committees comprise the National Research Council.


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