What are the potentials and perils of fungi to medicine, climate and food?

CIFAR's Global Call for Ideas invited applicants from all over the world to propose an important research question they want to address. We chose 12 finalists, and will announce the final selection in May. Find out more about this finalist.

There are more than 1.5 million species of fungi in the world. Some are crucial to our immune systems, while others cause lethal diseases in humans and in food crops.

The Fungal Kingdom program will study the genetic bases of these properties in fungi, their evolution and how they help and hurt plants, wildlife, and humans. They will ask fundamental questions, including: Why do some fungi cause disease? How can we predict the next emerging pathogen? What are key features of a vaccine to prevent fungal infections?

Tapping into the biology of fungi is crucial to protecting humans and our environment. It can avert the threat of biological warfare and epidemics. It can develop a new class of drugs, vaccines and treatments for antimicrobial resistance. It means we can grow stronger crops and produce better food and biofuels.


  •   Leah Cowen is a professor and Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Infectious Disease in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto.
  •   Joseph Heitman is the James B. Duke Professor and Chair of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University.

Find out more about the other short-listed Global Call proposals