The American Continent Institute was an institution of higher learning on Earth in the 23rd and 24th centuries. The institute employed the research scientists who led the expedition of the SS Columbia in the 2230s.
The Columbia, whose team was led by Doctor Theodore Haskins, crashed on Talos IV in 2236, and his fate remained unknown until 2254 – 18 years later. In that year, the starship USS Enterprise detected what they thought was a distress call from the Columbia, which turned out to be an elaborate trap set by the Talosians. Upon learning this, the crew of the Enterprise realized that there were, in fact, no survivors of the Columbia crash. (TOS: "The Cage")