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  • Mission & History

  • The New York Academy of Sciences: An Overview

    The New York Academy of Sciences is the world's nexus of scientific innovation in the service of humanity. For nearly 200 years—since 1817—the Academy has brought together extraordinary people working at the frontiers of discovery and promoted vital links between science and society. One of the oldest scientific organizations in the United States, the Academy has become not only a notable and enduring cultural institution in New York City, but also one of the most significant organizations in the international scientific community.

    Throughout its history, the Academy's membership has featured leaders in science, business, academia, and government, including U.S. Presidents Jefferson and Monroe, Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, Margaret Mead, and Albert Einstein. Today, the Academy President's Council includes 27 Nobel Laureates as well as CEOs, philanthropists, and leaders of national science funding agencies. The Academy numbers more than 22,000 members in 100 countries, and more than 50,000 unique visitors access the Academy Web site each month. You can also learn more about the Academy's Mission and Initiatives by downloading the Building Communities, Advancing Science brochure.

    The Academy has a three-pronged mission:

    • to advance scientific research and knowledge
    • to support scientific literacy
    • to promote the resolution of society's global challenges through science-based solutions


    One way the Academy accomplishes this mission is by convening—in New York and throughout the world—leading and emerging experts in scores of meetings, seminars, and interdisciplinary conferences annually. To drive scientific progress, the Academy disseminates the speakers' insights through both print media, including its prestigious Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and innovative electronic media including "eBriefings" and podcasts.

    Frontiers of Science, a unique Academy program, builds communities of common interest in cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary fields such as systems biology, emerging infectious diseases, genomic medicine, predictive toxicology, cancer & signaling, green science and sustainability, soft condensed matter physics, and quantitative finance, among many others.

    The Academy has also developed an Innovation and Economic Development Advisory Program in response to demands from state and municipal governments to assist in guiding policies and investments in science and technology innovation and economic development. Leaders in New York, London, Barcelona, Mexico City, Beijing, Shanghai, Moscow, and Delhi currently partner with the Academy, leveraging its network, international reach, and objectivity to catalyze progress.

    The Academy is continually embarking on important new initiatives that will benefit science and society. Scientists Without BordersSM is a public-private partnership conceived of by the Academy and the United Nations Millennium Project to harness the power of technology to transcend barriers to connection and collaboration between entities engaged in science-based activities that target the pressing problems facing the world's poorest communities. The Academy has also recently launched the New York City Science Education Initiative, with the aims of bringing New York's wealth of scientific resources to bear on the needs of the City's schools. The Initiative focuses on teacher training and afterschool mentoring for underserved middle and high school students, in order to address a dearth of support in this area.

    The Academy is proud to nurture all stages of the scientific pipeline, from a child's first moment of curiosity to a graduate student's doctorate dissertation; from a collaboration among senior researchers to the fulfillment of the scientific inspiration of an entrepreneur.

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