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CIFAR and Canada impacting the world

by Alan Bernstein Mar 11 / 19

Two years ago, CIFAR launched its second Global Call for Ideas, which invited the global research community propose new programs that address complex, fundamental questions of importance to the world.

Last week, we reached a major milestone in  the Global Call when CIFAR’s Board of Directors approved a renewed research portfolio that includes a mix of new and existing programs. An official announcement will be made next month, so until then I can tell you that the portfolio includes some of the best researchers in the world, working across disciplines and national borders. Together, they will address fundamental questions on the themes of Life & Health, Individuals & Society, Earth & Space, and Information & Matter.

During the process, we sought the advice of literally dozens of eminent scientists and scholars from many parts of the world; we began discussions with prospective partners; discussed proposals with an International Body of Reviewers; and solicited the critiques of an International Assessment Panel. Dozens of people worked long and hard at this rigorous process, and the results were worth it.

Finally, we took all of these inputs and critiques to the President’s Research Council, a very distinguished group of researchers from around the world, to make final recommendations before going before the Board.

We worked with many researchers, both familiar with CIFAR and new to the organization. All saw tremendous value in our model of convening extraordinary minds to address science and humanity’s most important questions. They also recognized our impact on the research process and the value we add to interdisciplinary, international collaboration and knowledge mobilization. This was tremendously gratifying for all of us at CIFAR.

Today’s challenges are complex and cross disciplinary and political lines. To address them properly, we need to work collaboratively across disciplinary and political boundaries. Now is the time for researchers from around the world to work together on these challenges. We must create an environment of free inquiry for the most extraordinary minds of our time.

As a Canadian-based organization, CIFAR is uniquely positioned. We will continue to lead this international effort, contributing to Canada’s  international reputation as a fair, open and peaceful nation that values diversity, transparency and evidence. We will ensure that Canada’s outstanding body of fundamental research is recognized and considered in international fora.

CIFAR was founded on the premise that Canada has something to offer the world, and that the involvement of outstanding international researchers and partners will contribute to greater impact for Canada.

With our new research portfolio, I am confident and indeed very excited that CIFAR is continuing to lay the foundation for ground-breaking and important research for decades to come.