Research Programs

Long-term interdisciplinary collaboration

CIFAR’s research programs bring together international, interdisciplinary teams over a sustained period of time to work on complex questions. Programs are led by a director or co-directors, engage approximately 20-40 fellows, associate fellows, and advisors from around the world, and two or three CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars.

CIFAR research programs provide long-term opportunities for collaboration and the freedom to explore new questions. Programs are funded on a 5-year renewable basis and meet twice annually. Some programs run for decades.

For more on how programs are selected, read about our Global Call for Ideas.

For more on our funding mechanism for short-term research endeavours within our program, read about our Catalyst Funds.

CIFAR's research programs address critical questions across four theme areas: Life & Health, Individuals & Society, Information & Matter and Earth & Space.

Life & Health

Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities
What might we uncover in an unknown biosphere?
Humans and the Microbiome
Humans & the Microbiome
How do microbes that live in and on us affect our health, development and even behaviour?
Molecular Architecture of Life
How does life originate and what are the processes that make life possible?

Individuals & Society

Brain, Mind & Consciousness
Brain, Mind & Consciousness
What are the origins and mechanisms of consciousness?
Boundaries, Membership & Belonging
Is it possible to have a world without “us” and “them”?
Child & Brain Development
How do childhood experiences affect lifelong health?
Innovation, Equity & the Future of Prosperity
How can innovation be beneficial to all?

Earth & Space

Earth 4D: Subsurface Science & Exploration
How do we understand the life, groundwater and environment deep below the surface of a planet?
Gravity & the Extreme Universe
Gravity & the Extreme Universe
What is the nature of extreme gravity, and how can it help us understand the origin and evolution of the universe?

Information & Matter

Bio-Inspired Solar Energy
Bio-inspired Solar Energy
How can we learn from nature to harvest energy from the sun?
Learning Machines & Brains
Learning in Machines & Brains
How do we understand intelligence and build intelligent machines?
Quantum Information Science
How do we harness the power of quantum mechanics to improve information processing?
Quantum Materials
How could quantum materials transform our society?

The following programs are concluding activities in the calendar year 2019

Genetic Networks
Genetic Networks
How do the interactions among genes influence health and development?
Institutions, Organizations and Govenrment
Institutions, Organizations & Growth
Why are some countries rich and others poor?
Successful Societies
Why are some societies more successful than others?


CIFAR fellows are collaborative researchers at the top of their fields who are interested in pursuing advances across disciplines. Fellows are selected for academic and communication excellence, and for how their expertise fits into the goals of a program.

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