A Message From the Presidents

(left to right) Victor J. Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine; Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences; C. D. Mote, Jr., president of the National Academy of Engineering. Photo by Cable Risdon/Risdon Photography“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old questions from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.” These words from Albert Einstein — whose statue graces the grounds of our historic building on the National Mall — eloquently describe our work at the National Academies. As the nation’s premier advisers on matters pertaining to science, engineering, and medicine, we examine the complex questions and challenges of our time to propose sound solutions grounded in evidence.

This Report to Congress highlights some of the many important issues we tackled in 2017. We convened hundreds of experts who worked without compensation over many months to produce the reports you’ll read about here, on far-ranging topics from exploring the appropriate conditions for editing the human genome to bolstering the resilience of the U.S. electric grid to increasing public safety in the event of extreme weather and other disasters.

True to Einstein’s words, we’re also shining a new light on how we work. We’ve begun a major transformation to modernize our management, processes, and business practices. Our goal is to more nimbly provide the trusted analysis and advice that policymakers and the public depend on — while preserving our core values of independence, objectivity, and balance.

Those values permeate not just our reports, but all of our efforts to serve, inform, and engage the public in science, engineering, and medicine. Toward that end, the National Academy of Sciences kicked off LabX, a new program aimed at empowering individuals and communities to use evidence-based decision-making on the issues that are important to them.

Also in 2017, students and educators from nearly 150 universities around the world connected with engineers, industry leaders, and policymakers in Washington, D.C., at the third Global Grand Challenges Summit. Based on the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering, and organized jointly by NAE, U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering, and Chinese Academy of Engineering, the summit inspired nearly 1,000 participants to think innovatively about critically important global challenges that could be addressed through engineering. In addition, the National Academy of Medicine convened an Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience in response to the high rate of burnout among health care workers — which threatens the delivery of safe, high-quality care. To date, more than 150 national organizations have joined NAM in committing to reversing this troubling trend and helping clinicians deliver the best possible care.

In 2017, we also welcomed Christopher King as our new executive director of congressional and government affairs. Chris brings a wealth of experience to the job and is eager to connect with legislators and policymakers.

Marcia McNutt
President, National Academy of Sciences
C. D. Mote, Jr.
President, National Academy of Engineering
Victor J. Dzau
President, National Academy of Medicine