Stage 2 begins in CIFAR’s search for questions with the potential to change the world

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Profound questions focused on the sustainability of life on Earth, novel energy solutions, and the brain and consciousness are among the seven shortlisted research teams announced today by CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research) to proceed to Stage 2 of its Global Call for Ideas.

In April 2013, CIFAR launched its first Global Call for Ideas, inviting leading researchers from across Canada and around the world to submit proposals to create research networks to tackle complex questions of global importance. There was a strong response with 280 Letters of Interest (LOIs) submitted.

“We were very pleased by the large number of LOIs and the many compelling ideas that we received,” says President & CEO Dr. Alan Bernstein. “The high level of the response has provided CIFAR with an excellent overview of areas of Canadian research strength and many research questions of importance to the world. Today, we begin the next stage by announcing seven impressive finalists from Canada and abroad.

Through CIFAR’s Global Call for Ideas, researchers from eight countries on five continents submitted LOIs. The proposals included a full spectrum of questions bridging the social sciences, medicine, health, the biological and physical sciences, the humanities, policy and engineering.

“The high quality of the LOIs submitted and the outstanding credentials of the researchers made it difficult to select only seven,” adds Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta. Dr. Tyrrell chaired the international panel of research leaders who selected the finalists. “We believe that these seven have the potential to create transformative new knowledge that will benefit humanity.”

The following LOIs have been selected for Phase 2 of CIFAR’s Global Call for Ideas.

Applicants Title Brief Description of Proposal
Edward Sargent (University of Toronto), Alan Aspuru-Guzik (Harvard University), Jillian Buriak (University of Alberta), Rienk van Grondelle (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). Biology, Energy, and Technology A major global initiative to develop next-generation solar energy-harvesting science and related technologies for sustainable energy solutions by taking inspiration from the rapidly-advancing fields of quantum biology and photobiology.
Andre Longtin (University of Ottawa) Yves De Koninck (Université Laval), Rainer Friedrich (Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel, Switzerland), David Kleinfeld (UC San Diego). BrainLight: Cracking the Sensory Code A research initiative that will use cutting-edge optical and computational technologies to decipher the microcircuitry of the human brain with the potential to provide novel therapies for pain and stroke.
Adrian Owen (Western University), Melvyn Goodale (Western University). Brain, Mind, and Consciousness A network composed of neuroscientists, philosophers, ethicists and clinicians that will focus on creating a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of human consciousness.
Paul Snelgrove (Memorial University), Verena Tunnicliffe (University of Victoria), Philippe Archambault (Université de Québec at Rimouski), Maurice Levasseur (Université Laval). Life in a Changing Ocean: New Perspectives on Marine Functions and Services A Canadian-led global initiative to discover and understand the key biological and physical processes in marine ecosystems that lead to better models to predict and sustain their ecological and economic importance to society.
R.J. Dwayne Miller (Max Planck Institute and University of Toronto), Paul W. Wiseman (McGill University), Wolfgang Baumeister (Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry), Oliver P. Ernst (University of Toronto). Making a Molecular Map of the Cell: Towards a Direct Determination of the Structure-Function Correlation of Biological Systems An international effort to convene a diverse research group that will explore how the molecules responsible for biological processes are formed and interact, leading to a deeper understanding of the minimum structural elements required to support life.
B. Brett Finlay (University of British Columbia), Janet Rossant (Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto). Microbes and Humans A global research effort to understand the role of the microbial organisms that reside within us in human development and evolution, with the potential to benefit personal and global health.
Paul Hebert (University of Guelph), John Colbourne (University of Birmingham), David Castle (University of Edinburgh), Daniel Janzen (University of Pennsylvania), Kevin McCann (University of Guelph) The Planetary Biodiversity Project A global network that will employ DNA barcoding to transform biodiversity science and inform an evidence-based conservation agenda for a sustainable, global bioeconomy.


These finalists now move to the next stage of the Global Call for Ideas process. During this stage, CIFAR will work with the finalists to further articulate the research questions, how they could be tackled, and the best people and research resources required to do so. Full research program proposals will be submitted to CIFAR by the end of February 2014. News Source : Stage 2 begins in CIFAR’s search for questions with the potential to change the world

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