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Research Programs

CIFAR identifies areas in which it believes significant new knowledge -- perhaps even revolutionary ideas -- can be created by bringing together the world's best thinkers to focus over a period of five years on a well-defined "Big Question". Currently, CIFAR funds 11 research Programs.

CIFAR’s programs consist of researchers from a variety of interrelated disciplines who meet two or three times per year. Each program is led by a director or co-directors, who are recognized internationally as major contributors within their fields, and who lead and oversee the intellectual direction of a program.

Each program also has an Advisory Committee, which comprises an international group of four to six senior researchers. The Advisory Committee provides feedback and advice to the directors on the current direction of that research area, and on the overall research agenda of the program. CIFAR makes a five-year commitment to each program, with renewal contingent on the outcome of a peer review by international experts.

By facilitating and nurturing collaboration among leading researchers, and by providing them with the leadership and advice of experts, CIFAR creates an arena for exploration and discovery that is unmatched in Canada or globally.

CIFAR's research mandate is led by advice from a scientific advisory body, the Research Council, composed mostly of eminent Canadian senior academics representing a wide range of fields of study. Its members contribute valuable insight and experience with respect to the Canadian and international research environment. They also help to oversee CIFAR’s research programs and other related activities.



Child & Brain Development
Child & Brain Development

Child & Brain Development explores the core question of how social experiences and settings affect developmental biology and help set early trajectories of lifelong development and health.

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Cosmology and Gravity
Cosmology & Gravity

The Cosmology and Gravity program attempts to tell a comprehensive story of the structure and evolution of the entire Universe, from its first moment of existence to its ultimate fate.

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Earth System Evolution
Earth System Evolution

At a time when global warming weighs heavily on the public consciousness, the Earth System Evolution program provides the larger context of how our world has evolved over hundreds of millions of years.

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Genetic Networks
Genetic Networks

The Genetic Networks program is devoted to discovering how genes interact with one another, research that could identify the root causes of many complex genetic diseases, and lead to new treatments and preventive measures.

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Institutions, Organizations and Growth
Institutions, Organizations & Growth

Institutions, Organizations and Growth takes an integrated approach to the question of what makes some countries rich and others poor, examining the effect of many types of institutions and organizations on economic growth.

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Integrated Microbial Biodiversity
Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

The Integrated Microbial Biodiversity program explores the diverse microbial world that surrounds and permeates human life. Program members are transforming human understanding of biodiversity, and changing approaches to medicine and health, environmental sustainability, and evolutionary biology itself.

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Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception
Neural Computation & Adaptive Perception

Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception aims to unlock the mystery of how our brains convert sensory stimuli into information and to recreate human-style learning in computers.

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Quantum Information Science
Quantum Information Science

Quantum Information Science unites computer scientists and physicists in an effort to harness the strange and fascinating properties of the quantum world, where the mere act of observing an object changes its nature, with the aim of building quantum computers.

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Quantum Materials
Quantum Materials

Quantum Materials invents and explores materials whose novel and unusual electronic properties, like superconductivity, could revolutionize technology.

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Social Interactions, Identity and Well-Being
Social Interactions, Identity & Well-Being

Social Interactions, Identity and Well-Being builds social science concepts into traditional economic models. Historically, identity research has been largely theoretical, and well-being largely empirical. Social interactions bridges the two, influencing both identity and well-being, and helping to provide a more complete understanding of economic motivation.

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Successful Societies
Successful Societies

Successful Societies explores the roots of social inequalities and asks the question: What makes a society successful?

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