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Research Programs

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We convene extraordinary minds to address the most important questions facing science and humanity.

CIFAR's research programs bring together international, interdisciplinary researchers who work together for five-year terms. Programs are led by a director or two co-directors, engage approximately 20-40 fellows and advisors from around the world, and include two or three CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars for two-year terms.



Our portfolio of research programs spans four broad theme areas.

Life & Health

Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities

What might we uncover in an unknown biosphere?

Humans & the Microbiome

How do microbes that live in and on us affect our health, development and even behaviour?

Individuals & Society

Boundaries, Membership & Belonging

Is it possible to have a world without “us” and “them”?

Brain, Mind & Consciousness

What are the origins and mechanisms of consciousness?

Child & Brain Development

How do childhood experiences affect lifelong health?

Innovation, Equity & The Future of Prosperity

How can innovation be beneficial to all?

Information & Matter

Bio-inspired Solar Energy

How can we learn from nature to harvest energy from the sun?

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?

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

What is extreme gravity, and how can it help us understand the origin of the universe?

The following are completing their work as CIFAR programs:

Genetic Networks

How do the interactions among genes influence health and development?

Institutions, Organizations & Growth

Why are some countries rich and others poor?

Molecular Architecture of Life

How does life originate and what are the processes that make life possible?

Successful Societies

Why are some societies more successful than others?

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CIFAR fellows are collaborative researchers at the top of their fields.

Our community of fellows, advisors, CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars, and Canada CIFAR AI Chairs includes more than 400 researchers from 18 countries. They regularly contribute to papers in the top 1% of most-cited papers worldwide. Fellows are selected for academic and communication excellence, and for how their expertise fits into the goals of a program.

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We encourage our community of researchers to work across programs and disciplines.

Through Catalyst Funds, we facilitate and support high-risk ideas and projects within and across CIFAR’s portfolio of research programs. The time-limited grants provide flexibility for early-stage projects, encourage interdisciplinary collaborations, and address emerging and exploratory themes within or between research programs.

Research News

Discover the latest advances from our community.



COVID-19 may forever alter our microbiomes

The virus (and our reactions to it) affects our health through the microbiome.


AI radiology tool supports real-time diagnosis of COVID-19-related pneumonia

Canadian research collaboration launches AI radiology tool


Nature, nurture, and time: Q&A with Marla Sokolowski

Research transforms how we think about early life experiences


CIFAR fellows narrow in on origin of Fast Radio Bursts

New results from CHIME surprise and delight

Support Us

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.

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