Honorary Appointments

Throughout its 30 years of knowledge breakthroughs and research excellence, CIFAR has recognized remarkable individuals who have played a key role in transforming CIFAR into one of Canada’s foremost global research assets. These individuals have been honoured as CIFAR Presidents Emeriti, Distinguished Fellows and Honorary Fellows.

Presidents Emeriti

Bestowed by the Board of Directors, the honorary title of President Emeritus is given to past CIFAR presidents who exhibit extraordinary leadership. This lifetime honour grants each of them the privilege of attending all CIFAR research program meetings and receiving research materials.

Peter J. G. Bentley

Peter J. G. Bentley, Director and Chair Emeritus of Canfor Corporation. As a member of CIFAR’s Board of Directors from 1995 to 2018, Peter was an articulate and strategic champion for CIFAR in British Columbia and Canada. He was actively involved in helping CIFAR raise funds from the Government of British Columbia, facilitating introductions of the Institute to wider audiences, and making generous contributions both personally and corporately. In 2018, CIFAR’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Peter as a CIFAR Honorary Fellow in recognition of his 23 years of devoted service.

Chaviva Hošek, President and CEO (2001-2012)

A leader in government, academia and business, Dr. Hošek joined CIFAR as President and CEO in 2001. With her immense curiosity and intellect, her passion for making a difference, and her natural warmth, Dr. Hošek significantly expanded and strengthened CIFAR, leading it into several new topics such as quantum information and the role of genetic networks in disease. As CIFAR’s President and CEO, she was the Lawson Foundation Fellow and, as such, provided leadership of CIFAR’s research into early childhood development while mobilizing new knowledge for greater societal impact.

Her career included a post as Director of Policy and Research in the Prime Minister’s Office for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien from 1993-2000. She was Minister of Housing with the Province of Ontario and a Professor of English Literature at the University of Toronto for 13 years. She has also received four honorary degrees and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

J. Stefan Dupré, President and CEO (1996-2000)

Stefan Dupré joined CIFAR in 1996, after holding many senior academic positions including Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto and founding Chairman of the Ontario Council of University Affairs. He became a professor of political science at the University of Toronto in 1963, and later Professor Emeritus. He oversaw the evolution of the Institute’s early work on superconductivity and gravity to focus on the emerging revolutions in these fields.

Prior to his presidency, Dr. Dupré was a member of the National Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He was past-president of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, and received the Institute’s Vanier Medal. He was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Fraser Mustard, Founding President (1982-1996)

Fraser Mustard was the founding President of CIFAR and served for 14 years. His vision was to create a global institute that promoted interdisciplinary, inter-university research and explored the scientific and social challenges important to Canada and the world. Before establishing CIFAR, Dr. Mustard was widely respected for his work in blood and vascular disease and was one of the founding members of McMaster University’s Faculty of Medicine. He is well-known for his leadership of the Early Years Study with the Honorable Margaret Norrie McCain. He made an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of how social and economic gradients affect health, early development and lifetime well-being.

His many honours include Companion of the Order of Canada, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. Before passing away in 2011, he was a member of CIFAR’s Advisory Committee for the Child & Brain Development program.

Distinguished Fellows

The title of CIFAR Distinguished Fellow is a lifetime honour granted by CIFAR’s Board of Directors on research fellows who have made outstanding, long-term contributions to the research programs of the Institute while substantially advancing knowledge in their fields of study.


George Akerlof, University Professor at Georgetown University and Koshland Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at University of California, Berkeley

George Akerlof is a Nobel laureate best known for his prize-winning “Market for Lemons” theory of asymmetric information and its effect on economic behavior. His most important research initiative in recent years has involved bringing a new point of view into economics that incorporates concepts in classical sociology, including identity, norms, ideal types, and social categories. He joined CIFAR as an Associate Fellow in the Economic Growth & Policy program in 1992 and then a Senior Fellow in the Institutions, Organizations & Growth program. In 2005, he and John F. Helliwell became the founding Co-Directors of the Social Interactions, Identity & Well-Being program.

John F. Helliwell, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of British Columbia

John F. Helliwell is a Canadian economist renowned for his pioneering work in incorporating social concepts into economic theories of development and growth. In 2012, Helliwell co-edited the very first World Happiness Report and the fifth annual report was released in 2017. These reports have sparked a worldwide discussion on well-being, society, and government policy. He joined CIFAR as the founding Co-Director of the Social Interactions, Identity & Well-Being program with George A. Akerlof in 2005.


Elhanan Helpman, Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade, Harvard University

Dr. Helpman is one of the most respected and diverse economists in the world. He has changed the field of international trade and brought rigorous, creative approaches to studies of economic growth and political economy. He developed new trade theory and extended new growth theory with his collaborators. In 1992, he was among the first fellows appointed to the CIFAR program in Economic Growth & Policy, eventually becoming director. In 2004, he and his colleagues proposed a new program in Institutions, Organizations & Growth that would shift the focus from technology’s role in growth to examine how institutions influence growth and development. He stepped down as director of that program in 2014 and remains a senior fellow.


Geoffrey Hinton, Distinguished Professor, University of Toronto, and Distinguished Researcher, Google

Dr. Hinton is a pioneering computer scientist renowned for his work on deep learning. In 2013, Google purchased his startup company, DNNresearch, and hired him to improve its artificial intelligence functions for services such as image search and voice search. Hinton’s work has fuelled the movement toward creating computers that think more and more like humans. He joined CIFAR as a Fellow in the Artificial Intelligence & Robotics program in 1987, and became the founding Director of CIFAR’s Learning in Machines & Brains program (formerly known as Neural Computation & Adaptive Perception). He now serves on the program's Advisory Committee.


W. Ford Doolittle, Professor Emeritus, Dalhousie University

Dr. Doolittle, one of the world's top molecular geneticists, was the founding Director of CIFAR’s program in Evolutionary Biology. His research has revolutionized our understanding of the evolutionary “tree of life.” Working on the smallest of organisms, protists, he demonstrated that genes crossed over various evolutionary branches, fundamentally altering our thinking about how speciation occurred. He played a key role in establishing CIFAR’s program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity, and sits on its Advisory Committee today.


Robert G. Evans, Professor of Economics, University of British Columbia

Dr. Evans is a world leading health economist and founding Director of CIFAR’s program in Population Health, serving in that role from 1987-1997. He made groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of the social and economic determinants of health and fundamentally transformed our thinking about health systems through comparative studies of such systems and their funding strategies. He continued as a Fellow until the program’s completion in 2002.

Werner Israel, Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria

Dr. Israel is a well-known physicist who helped create one of CIFAR’s first programs, Cosmology and Gravity, in 1986. He is a pioneer in understanding the detailed structure of black holes, a topic that remains one of the foundational questions in physical cosmology. He remains an active member of the program.

Honorary Fellows

The title of CIFAR Honorary Fellow is a lifetime honour bestowed by CIFAR’s Board of Directors on individuals who have provided significant and outstanding leadership to the Institute over a sustained period of time.


Richard W. Ivey, Chairman Emeritus, CIFAR, and Chairman and CEO of Ivest Corporation

As a member of CIFAR’s Board of Directors from 1995 to 2015, Richard W. Ivey was actively involved in helping CIFAR raise over $100 million of private and public sector funding. Richard and his wife Donna have also been generous donors to CIFAR. In his 20 years with the Board, he served as Chair for six years, as well as Chair of the Principal Gifts Campaign, Governance, and Advancement and Communications committees. In 2015, CIFAR’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Richard as a CIFAR Honorary Fellow in recognition of his 20 years of devoted leadership and philanthropy.


David Johnston, Governor General of Canada (2010 to 2017), Chairman Emeritus, CIFAR Honorary Patron.

The Right Honorable David Johnston has a long history of supporting CIFAR. He was a member of CIFAR’s program in Law and Society from 1987 to 1990, and served as Chair of the Board from 1994 to 1999. In 1999 CIFAR appointed him an Honorary Fellow for devoting “his outstanding talents to the task of mobilizing the resources without which CIFAR would have ceased to exist.” In 2014 he became CIFAR’s first Honorary Patron. Mr. Johnston is the former Governor General of Canada, and a former president of the University of Waterloo.


The Honourable William C. Winegard, Minister for Science (1990-1993), Minister of State for Science and Technology (1989-1990)

As Canada’s Minister of Science, William C. Winegard helped secure federal funding for CIFAR during a critical period of growth. This transformational funding helped sustain the Institute’s research mission and to build new support from private-sector partners. William C. Winegard received this CIFAR honour "in recognition for all that he has done to promote the importance of science and innovation throughout his career."