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The National Laboratory System

The national laboratory system is comprised of 17 of the country's top scientific research facilities. The laboratories are owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and house many of the world's top scientists and engineers, as well as unique equipment, some of which is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

The Energy Department's national laboratories date back to the immense investment in scientific research in the period preceding World War II, and to the Manhattan Project. During this era, the Atomic Energy Commission (DOE's predecessor) established a system of national laboratories to augment America's existing academic and industrial research infrastructure. They have served as the leading institutions for scientific innovation in the U.S. for more than 70 years.

They tackle the critical scientific challenges of our time in support of the public good — from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe — and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the Labs address large scale, complex research and development challenges that place an emphasis on translating basic science to innovation that will meet modern-day national goals.

The national laboratory system cultivates the future scientific and engineering workforce that is vital to innovation, competitiveness and the future of America. Science is not linear, nor is it uniform, but the Lab system makes the pursuit of discovery — and the many solutions that result — both a collaborative enterprise and a shared national resource.

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