Western team named Global Call for Ideas finalist

By Communications Staff
September 04, 2013

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A project spearheaded by Western researchers Adrian Owen and Melvyn Goodale has been named among seven shortlisted teams to proceed to Stage 2 of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) 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 submitted; only seven finalists were selected.

“We were very pleased by the many compelling ideas that we received,” said Dr. Alan Bernstein, president and CEO. “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. (Now), we begin the next stage.”

Researchers from eight countries on five continents submitted letters of interest. The proposals included a full spectrum of questions bridging the social sciences, medicine, health, the biological and physical sciences, the humanities, policy and engineering.

Goodale, director of Western’s Brain and Mind Institute (BMI), and Owen, a BMI principal investigator, pitched a project titled, 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.

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

All finalists now move to the next stage of the Global Call for Ideas process. During this stage, CIFAR will work with the teams to further articulate research questions, how they could be tackled and the best people and research resources required to do so. Full program proposals will be submitted to CIFAR by the end of February 2014.

In addition to the Western team, the following letters of interest were selected for Phase 2:

  • Edward Sargent, University of Toronto; Alan Aspuru-Guzik, Harvard University; Jillian Buriak, University of Alberta; and Rienk van Grondelle, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

    Biology, Energy and Technology. A global initiative to develop next-generation solar energy-harvesting science and related technologies.
  • Andre Longtin, University of Ottawa; Yves De Koninck, Université Laval; Rainer Friedrich, Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel, Switzerland; and David Kleinfeld, UC-San Diego.

    BrainLight: Cracking the Sensory Code. An initiative that will use optical and computational technologies to decipher the microcircuitry of the human brain.
  • Paul Snelgrove, Memorial University; Verena Tunnicliffe, University of Victoria; Philippe Archambault, Université de Québec at Rimouski; and 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.
  • R.J. Dwayne Miller, Max Planck Institute and University of Toronto; Paul W. Wiseman, McGill University; Wolfgang Baumeister, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry; and 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 effort to explore how the molecules responsible for biological processes are formed and interact.
  • B. Brett Finlay, University of British Columbia, and 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.
  • Paul Hebert, University of Guelph; John Colbourne, University of Birmingham; David Castle, University of Edinburgh; Daniel Janzen, University of Pennsylvania; and Kevin McCann (University of Guelph).

    The Planetary Biodiversity Project. A network that will employ DNA barcoding to transform biodiversity science and inform an evidence-based conservation agenda for a sustainable, global bioeconomy.


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