The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) is an American nonprofit, research institution based in Seattle, Washington, with a branch office in Washington, D.C. The organization’s mission is to inform and strengthen Asia-Pacific policy. NBR brings together specialists, policymakers, and business leaders to examine economic, strategic, political, globalization, health, and energy issues affecting U.S. relations with East, Central, Southeast and South Asia and Russia. Richard J. Ellings is the current president.
Funding for NBR's research comes from NBR itself, foundations, corporations, government departments and agencies, and individuals. NBR undertakes a small amount of contract work for public and private sector organizations.
In the late seventies, Senator Henry M. Jackson raised the need for a "National Sino-Soviet Center" in conversations with Kenneth B. Pyle, Director of the University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. He enlisted Edward Carlson, President and CEO of United Airlines, and Thornton Wilson, CEO of the Boeing Company, to assist in creating an institution that would bridge the gap between those responsible for foreign policy decision making and the specialists located in universities and research institutes in the U.S. and abroad. The National Bureau of Asian and Soviet Research was established in 1989, seven years after Jackson's death, with grants from the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and The Boeing Company. The organization's founding president was Kenneth B. Pyle. In 1992 the organization dropped "and Soviet" to become The National Bureau of Asian Research.
The Political and Security Affairs (PSA) group conducts innovative, forward-looking policy research on a range of Asian political security issues with a particular focus on strategic studies, with the Strategic Asia Program; China security issues; U.S. national security, with the Shalikashvili Chair; and politics and leadership through the Pyle Center.
NBR's Trade, Economic, and Energy Affairs (TEEA) group examines market and policy questions for the Asia-Pacific, with a focus on three broad areas: energy security and policy; energy and the environment; and trade, investment, and economic engagement. Over the years, TEEA has undertaken major research initiatives on a broad range of topics, including energy and environmental security, China's IP and innovation policies, Islamic finance, and the status of Myanmar's domestic and foreign policy reforms. The group's longest ongoing initiative is its Energy Security Program, which since 2004 has examined major developments in Asian energy markets and implications for geopolitics.
Through TEEA, NBR also serves as the Secretariat of the Pacific Energy Summit, an invitation-only event that describes itself as "conven[ing] leaders from government, business, and research to explore innovative solutions to the dual challenges of rising energy demand and a changing climate." Past program speakers have included Louisiana congressman Charles Boustany, former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert Hormats, and Melody Meyer of Chevron. Each year, the Summit is held in a different location across the Asia-Pacific, with past sites including Tokyo, Jakarta, Hanoi, and Vancouver, among others.
The Center for Health and Aging was established in 2003. Michael P. Birt, then Director of NBR’s Center for Health and Aging, George F. Russell, Jr., Chairman of The National Bureau of Asian Research, Leland H. Hartwell, President of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and William H. Gates, Sr., co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, met in 2004 to discuss the need for prevention, detection, and treatment of illness early enough to reduce the human and financial cost of disease. Plans to organize and host a Pacific Health Summit in Seattle, Washington, emerged from those discussions. George F. Russell, Jr. and William H. Gates, Sr. co-chaired an advisory group, provided the seed funding for the Pacific Health Summit, and were keynote speakers at the inaugural Pacific Health Summit, which was convened in 2005 by two co-sponsoring organizations, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and NBR’s Center for Health and Aging. Subsequent annual Pacific Health Summits were co-presented by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and The National Bureau of Asian Research, which served as the Summit’s secretariat from its founding. The world health leaders and top corporate executives attending this invitation-only event have been referred to as "global health luminaries." Since NBR concluded the annual meeting in 2012, the focus of the Center for Health and Aging has shifted from an annual meeting to more targeted work that builds on the Summit's past themes and concrete outcomes.
In 2006, NBR endowed the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies. The Chair recognizes General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for his 39 years of military service to the United States, years of leadership on the NBR Board of Directors, and his role as Senior Advisor to NBR's Strategic Asia Program. The stated mission of the Chair is to provide a "distinguished scholar in the national security field with an opportunity to inform, strengthen, and shape the understanding of U.S. policymakers on critical current and long-term national security issues related to the Asia-Pacific." The inaugural holder, Dennis C. Blair, was appointed in 2009 by President Obama to serve as the Director of National Intelligence. In September 2010, former Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command Thomas B. Fargo came on as the second chair holder.
In 2006, NBR created the Kenneth B. and Anne H.H. Pyle Center for Northeast Asian Studies, named in honor of NBR’s founding president and his wife. The Pyle Center conducts research on Northeast Asia to advance the comprehensive study of the region, particularly as it pertains to its security, political, and economic dynamics.
In 2010, NBR launched the Slade Gorton International Policy Center, named in honor of United States Senator Slade Gorton who served as majority leader of the Washington State House of Representatives, for three terms as state attorney general, and for three terms as United States Senator. The Gorton Center incorporates and builds on current projects in the areas of economics and trade at NBR as well as addressing the issues central to Slade's work on the 9/11 Commission, focusing on how America organizes internally to protect the country from outside threats.
From 2009 to 2011, NBR and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars partnered to launch the National Asia Research Program (NARP), a national research and conference program designed to reinvigorate and promote the policy-relevant study of Asia. In April 2010, the program selected a premier group of National Asia Research Associates and Fellows, nominated by U.S. research organizations and higher learning institutions with top programs on Asia.
NBR publishes books, a peer-reviewed journal, and occasional reports. Since 2001, NBR has published the annual edited volume Strategic Asia, which incorporates assessments of economic, political, and military trends and focuses on the strategies that drive policy in the region through a combination of country, regional, and topical studies authored by Asia studies specialists and international relations experts. Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has served as the research director for the Strategic Asia Program. Since January 2006, NBR has published the biannual journal Asia Policy, which presents academic research on the Asia-Pacific with a focus on policy conclusions for the United States. Loyola Marymount University Asian studies professor Thomas Plate has described the Asia Policy board of editorial advisers as a "virtual Who's Who in the field of Asian policy scholarship."
Board of Directors
NBR Board of Advisors
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