Research ProgramsCIFAR 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".
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.
CIFAR currently funds 14 research programs, including four new programs that resulted from our Global Call for Ideas –- Bio-inspired Solar Energy; Brain, Mind & Consciousness; Humans & the Microbiome; and Molecular Architecture of Life. In addition, CIFAR recently wrapped up two programs which had fulfilled their mandate: Nanoelectronics; and Earth System Evolution.
Where does human consciousness come from, and why is it important?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
How do microbes that live in and on us affect our health, development and even behaviour?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
How does life originate and what are the processes that make life possible?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Quantum Materials invents and explores materials whose novel and unusual electronic properties, like superconductivity, could revolutionize technology.Read More
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.Read More