Nearly 200 years ago—in 1817—the New York Academy of Sciences was founded in downtown Manhattan by a group of physicians "favorable to the cultivation of Natural Science." The third-oldest scientific society 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 NYAS President’s Council includes 26 Nobel Laureates as well as CEOs, philanthropists, and leaders of national science funding agencies. The Academy numbers 24,000 members in 140 countries, and 400,000 unique visitors access the NYAS Web site each month.
The Academy has a three-pronged mission: to advance scientific knowledge, to help resolve the major global challenges facing society with science-based solutions, and to increase the number of scientifically informed individuals. One way the Academy accomplishes this is by convening—in New York and throughout the world—leading and, especially, emerging experts in scores of meetings, seminars, and interdisciplinary conferences annually. To drive scientific progress, the Academy disseminates the speakers' insights through both print and innovative electronic media including the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Academy eBriefings, and the Science & the City Podcast.
A unique Academy program—Frontiers of Science—builds communities of common interest in cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary fields such as systems biology, emerging infectious diseases, model organisms, brain dysfunction, green science and building, soft materials, and quantitative finance, among many others.
The Academy also convenes the foremost authorities in science, technology, innovation and sustainability to help inform policymakers. Recently, the Academy has been invited by scientific leaders and high government officials in London, Mexico City, and China to build bridges between their academic institutions and between academia, industry, and the financial sector to enhance their scientific and technological competitiveness.
Finally, the Academy is always looking for important new initiatives that will benefit science and society. One such program, Scientists Without BordersSM, was conceived in 2006 to help investigators and organizations coordinate science-based activities aimed at addressing health, environmental, and other challenges in the developing world. A who's who of the public and private organizations devoted to achieving the United Nations Millennium goals—including the UN itself, the Pasteur Institute, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Gates Foundation, and many of the leading NGOs and corporations—participated in the formation of Scientists Without Borders. Since its launch in May 2008, over 150 prestigious global organizations have registered as participating partners.