The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community. Nearly 500 members of the NAS have won Nobel Prizes, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is today one of the premier international journals publishing the results of original research.
The National Research Council, created under the NAS charter in 1916 by executive order of President Woodrow Wilson, extended the scope of the NAS in its advisory role. The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) were founded under the NAS charter in 1964 and 1970, respectively. Together, the NAS, NRC, NAE and IOM enlist the aid of the nation’s most knowledgeable scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts who volunteer their time to produce reports that have led to some of the most significant and lasting improvements in the health, education, and welfare of all the world’s citizens. The Academy's service to government has become so essential that Congress and the White House have issued legislation and executive orders over the years that reaffirm its unique role.