The Right Organization at the Right Time

The ISR is an independent global network of scientists; it is not tied to existing global groups or any nation-state. With global reach into the scientific community, millions of interactions via our digital channels, and our peer-reviewed journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, the New York Academy of Sciences is well placed to spearhead this network. The Academy draws upon a vast range of subject matter experts in over 100 countries, including 36 Nobel Laureates who serve on the President’s Council, a distinguished Board of Governors, and strong partnerships with key stakeholders, including federal agencies, international organizations, NGOs, and other scientific institutions around the world.

The Academy is one of the oldest scientific societies in the U.S. For over 200 years, it has been a respected neutral convener, with rich experience organizing complex public-private partnerships and bringing together competing interests to develop and implement global scientific solutions. It is not involved in the incentives inherent in institutions that conduct primary research, nor is it as affected by global geopolitical concerns, or stymied by governmental bureaucracy. This allows the Academy to convene diverse stakeholders quickly to address global issues, as we did with antibiotics (1946), AIDS (1983), SARS (2003), H1N1 swine flu (2009), and more recently with over 30 programs concerning COVID-19 research and vaccine development.

Our work is especially important now. The unprecedented impact of human activity on the planet is causing complex, novel, and often transnational crises. As we have seen from COVID-19, good preparation and a prompt response, free of the burden of conflicting interests and politicization, are crucial in identifying a problem quickly and providing effective crisis management and mitigation. Science is now an essential component of any large-scale response to a global emergency; it is no longer enough to conduct ‘science as usual’. The ISR pre-establishes an empowered network of scientific experts that can be activated at the earliest sign of a global crisis.

“The point of [the International Science Reserve] is not to stand up a huge organization, but to make this into a network that is nimble, that is heavily annotated with knowledge and connections, then to actively engage discrete groups of partners to simulate what we might do in the event of something terrible taking place.” Nicholas Dirks, President & CEO, New York Academy of Sciences, in a recent interview with Fortune.

Learn more about the Academy here.