Sep 27, 2018 · 4 min read

CZI announces support for policymaking based on scientific evidence


Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced its support for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in launching the AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues (EPI). This new Center will address important science policy issues at the forefront of the public conversation such as the opioid crisis, managing global pandemics, and ensuring clean drinking water is available to residents of our cities.

The EPI Center’s mission is to provide clearly and strategically communicated scientific evidence and analysis about critical policy issues, providing a strong foundation for making sound decisions about public issues. Evidence-based analysis can give early warning of potential problems, rule out strategies that are precluded by technical limits, and anticipate the consequences of policy options and personal decisions.

“At a time when decision-makers too often ignore, misunderstand or misuse relevant evidence, we need new ways to communicate policy-relevant scientific evidence to decision-makers and influencers in all areas of government and society,” said Rush Holt, chief executive officer at AAAS. “The AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues will connect scientific expertise to the decisions and policies that affect our lives.”

The grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative DAF, a donor-advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, will support AAAS to conduct three stakeholder engagement summits to identify the most timely and pressing science-based challenges that decision makers are facing and inform the EPI Center’s overarching strategy. The summits will take place in diverse geographic locations and include a range of stakeholder perspectives and expertise.

“Evidence-based research and information are the bedrock for sound policy,” said CZI’s Director of Science Policy, Tania Simoncelli. “CZI is proud to support the AAAS’s efforts to play a more active role as a force for informed decision making.”

The AAAS has selected science policy and public affairs expert Michael Fernandez as the founding director of the EPI Center. Fernandez joins AAAS from George Washington University, where he was most recently a senior fellow for its Food Policy Institute and Sustainability Collaborative and a lecturer at the Milken Institute of Public Health. Fernandez first became involved in policy as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in 1991, and then as professional staff with the committee for the next three years. He holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Princeton University.

CZI is one of many funders that are contributing to the new Center, among them the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, and the Hellman family.


About the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific membership organization and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more. For additional information about AAAS, see


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative:

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges – from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education and Justice and Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grantmaking, impact investing, policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit

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