From the beginning, the American Chemical Society has had a tie to medicine: It was founded in 1876 by 35 chemists at the College of Pharmacy of the City of New York. Chemistry in the pursuit of health remains a focus for ACS and its membership-now more than 163,000. The organization employs nearly 2,000 people; most work to produce the organization's more than 40 peer-reviewed journals and multiple databases that are indispensable to scientists worldwide.
On August 25, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law that gave ACS its congressional charter. Its mandates included the promotion of research and advancement of the science; maintenance of standards of ethics and education; increase and diffusion of chemical knowledge; and promotion of the science in the interest of public happiness and welfare, education and economic development.
This language, from a 76-year old public law, may seem dusty. Instead, it is dynamic: Madeleine Jacobs, ACS executive director and CEO, refers to the charter each time she meets a new employee.
"It guides us in everything we do," Jacobs said. "We're very proud to be one of the few organizations to have it and, believe me, I cite this all the time."
Another guiding principle is ACS' tagline, "Chemistry for life," which intentionally incorporates the facet of medical research. Chemistry is the basis for pharmaceuticals, after all, and Jacobs said ACS has 40,000 industrial and academic members involved in the life sciences in some way. She added that many ACS members receive funding from the National Institutes of Health. "It's a big source of funding for a large number of our academic members," she said.
Jacobs explained that ACS advocates for a "vital, robust and sustained" scientific enterprise. Other prongs of its advocacy include a favorable environment for industry and entrepreneurs as well as a workforce that is well-educated in the STEM fields.
Those are also tenets of Research!America's advocacy, and that alignment is a key reason why ACS is a member of Research!America's alliance.
"I don't think that we can be successful working in a vacuum, working individually. I think we can be much more successful when we work together," Jacobs said. "[Research!America is] the kind of coalition we want to be involved in ... Whatever we can bring to the table in helping you achieve, I think it also means we will be achieving things for our members as well."