Since 1886, the National Academy of Sciences has honored outstanding achievement in the physical, biological, and social sciences through its awards program.


  • NAS Receives $1.5 Million Gift to Establish New Award in the Physical Sciences
    Research Corporation for Science Advancement has made a gift of $1.5 million to the National Academy of Sciences to establish the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery in honor of RCSA's past president John P. Schaefer. This new $100,000 prize will be given biennially to recognize an accomplishment or discovery in basic research within the past five years. The fields of science for each presentation will rotate from among chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, astronomy, physics, and materials science, with the inaugural award presented in 2015 for a recent discovery in chemistry, biochemistry, or biophysics. Read More »

  • John E. Porter to Receive Public Welfare Medal – Academy's Most Prestigious Award
    In recognition of decades of advocacy on behalf of scientific and medical research, the National Academy of Sciences is presenting its 2014 Public Welfare Medal to John E. Porter, former member of Congress, partner in the law firm Hogan Lovells, and chair of Research!America.  Established in 1914, the medal is the Academy's most prestigious award and is presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good. Read More »

  • Academy Honors 15 for Major Contributions to Science
    The National Academy of Sciences will honor 15 individuals with awards in recognition of their extraordinary scientific achievements in a wide range of fields spanning the physical, biological, and medical sciences. Read More »

  • McClelland and Spelke Awarded First NAS Prizes in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
    James L. McClelland and Elizabeth Shilin Spelke are the inaugural recipients of the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences.  Each will receive the $200,000 prize at the 2014 NAS annual meeting in April. Read More »

  • NAS Award Recipients Received 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
    1997 was a very good year!  James Rothman and Thomas Südhof – two of the Academy's 1997 award recipients – were awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with fellow NAS member Randy Schekman. Rothman received the Richard Lounsbery Award in 1997 for his dissection of the biochemical mechanisms by which proteins are transferred from one cellular compartment to another and to the outside world. These mechanisms are important in neurotransmission, tissue biogenesis, and hormonal secretion.  Südhoff shard the 1997 NAS Award in Molecular Biology for the performance of elegant experiments to resolve the molecular components responsible for controlling neurotransmitter vesicle release and chemical communication within the nervous system.  Both the Richard Lounsbery Award and the NAS Award in Molecular Biology identify outstanding young investigators.

Featured Award

NAS Award in Chemical Sciences

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences is presented annually to honor innovative research in the chemical sciences that contributes to a better understanding of the natural sciences and to the benefit of humanity.

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences was first awarded in 1979 to Linus Pauling for his studies, which elucidated in structural terms the properties of stable molecules of progressively higher significance to the chemical, geological, and biological sciences. Pauling was one of the most influential scientists of the twentieth century. He was a chemist, peace activist, and a founder of the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology. Much of his work involved the application of quantum mechanical theory to electron structure and its influence on molecular bonding. He wrote the book The Nature of the Chemical Bond, in which he proposed that atoms bonded through a transfer of energy as opposed to the accepted “hook-and-eye” model. He also established the concept of electronegativity and a scale of measurement based on bond strength and dipole moments.

Marvin H. Caruthers

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences award has continued to recognize some of the greatest chemists in the past few decades as 14 recipients have been honored with a National Medal of Science (Westheimer 1980; Bernstein 1985; Brown 1987; McConnell 1988; Cotton 1990; Zare 1991; Karle 1995; Hawthorne 1997; Bard 1998; Roberts 1999; Brauman 2001; Benkovic 2011; Marks 2012; Smorjai 2013) and six recipients have received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Taube 1983; Hoffmann 1986; Brown 1987; Cram 1992; Zewail 1996; Sharpless 2000).

Marvin H. Caruthers, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is the recipient of this year’s NAS Award in Chemical Sciences. Caruthers is being honored for his groundbreaking work on the chemical synthesis of DNA and RNA that made it possible to decode and encode genes and genomes.

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences was established in 1978 and supported by Occidental Petroleum Corporation from 1978 to 1996. The Merck Company Foundation assumed sponsorship in 1999. The award is presented with a medal and a $15,000 cash prize.

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