LEADING IN A PANDEMIC
We took immediate action during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic began, we quickly leveraged our experience as a global convenor of multilateral discussions to address the most urgent questions facing science, society, and governments.
CIFAR's time-tested model inspires new directions of inquiry.
We allocated high-impact, rapid-response funds, supporting new research collaborations that address COVID-19.
We connected global expert communities and mobilized knowledge.
From the earliest stages of the pandemic, we convened scientists and organizations for discussions and advice on AI, data, ethics, contact-tracing apps, and changing social dynamics.
Our roundtable on AI and COVID-19 brought together international experts and resulted in a comprehensive report for policy-makers. Led by CIFAR, a group of 70 Canadian and international leaders in AI, business, infectious disease, epidemiology, and medicine explored opportunities for collaboration and data sharing.
Within 12 hours, we published a comprehensive report on the policy-relevant insights that emerged from the expert roundtable. This report was used at a virtual policy briefing of more than 50 policy-makers and health officials from federal and provincial governments across Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.
Following the Virtual Policy Briefing, we created a group of senior health data leaders from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, and Health Canada to share best practices on data governance issues and explore opportunities to work together. A particular focus of the group was building large, robust, and secure data platforms for research and public health.
On March 20, 2020, we led a Call to Action on Machine Learning & COVID-19 for members of CIFAR’s Learning in Machines & Brains program. The group discussed projects and initiatives that Fellows and Advisors are engaged in that connect AI and machine learning applications to COVID-19. This meeting set the groundwork for several fruitful collaborations.
At the request of Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer, we established a group of senior scholars to advise on the technical, social, legal, and ethical considerations for deploying novel technologies in response to COVID-19, with a particular focus on contact-tracing apps. This independent group included leading Canadian experts in law, regulatory innovation, artificial intelligence, epidemiology, clinical care, philosophy, ethics, and public policy. Their report, which includes a framework of guiding principles and specific implementation advice, informed government actions and decisions.
On June 16, 2020, fellows across seven research programs met to define critical questions, approaches, scenarios, opportunities, and problems caused by the sudden shift in social interaction. This open, collaborative space created by CIFAR sparked new ideas for interdisciplinary inquiry that address the societal impact of the pandemic.
Pivoting research to address COVID-19.
Nearly one-quarter of our global community of over 400 fellows, chairs, scholars, and advisors have focused their research to address the challenges of COVID-19.
Their projects, including rapid diagnostic tests and new ventilator designs, span six broad thematic areas:
- COVID-19 Response Leadership
- Biology of SARS-CoV-2
- Epidemiology & Transmission
- Medical Countermeasures
- Social & Economic Impact
- Mental Health & Well-being
Science is the exit strategy.
We highlighted the research insights and work of our global community by launching a series of free, virtual public talks held every other week entitled “Science is the Exit Strategy.”
The talks covered community approaches to COVID-19 screening, what past pandemics can teach us about today’s pandemic, and combining X-ray diagnostics with AI to predict COVID-19 severity, among other important topics.
CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec as well as foundations, individuals, corporations, and international partner organizations.