The Origins Federation, a new multidisciplinary research consortium, has been formed to advance the understanding of the emergence and early evolution of life, as well as its place in the cosmos. This international alliance, which includes some of the world's leading institutions such as The Origins of Life Initiative at Harvard University and the Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe at the University of Cambridge, aims to pursue scientific research of interest to its founding members with a long-term perspective and common milestones.
Four leading institutions will create a multidisciplinary research consortium to advance the understanding of the emergence and early evolution of life and its place in the cosmos. The so-called Origins Federation is driven by The Origins of Life Initiative (Harvard University), the Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life (ETH Zurich), the Center for the Origins of Life (University of Chicago), and the Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe (University of Cambridge). The Origins Federation will pursue scientific research topics of interest to its founding centers with a long-term perspective and common milestones.
The goals of the Origins Federation
It will strive to establish a platform to create opportunities for creative and innovative ideas and enable young scientists to pursue a career in this new field. The federation is open to new members, both institutions and individuals, and is committed to developing the necessary mechanisms and structure to achieve this goal, as reported by the University of Cambridge.
Along with Nobel laureate chemist Jack Szostak and astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, Didier Queloz, director of the Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life at ETH Zurich and the Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe at Cambridge, presented this international alliance that brings together the expertise of researchers working on the origins of life in these centers.
An extraordinary historical moment
“We are living in an extraordinary historical moment,” says Queloz in a statement. As a doctoral student, Queloz was the first to discover an exoplanet, that is, a planet that orbits a solar-type star outside the Earth’s solar system. A discovery for which he later received the Nobel Prize in Physics.
To date, scientists have discovered more than 5,000 exoplanets and predict the possible existence of trillions more in the Milky Way alone. Each discovery raises more questions than answers about how and why life arose on Earth and whether it exists elsewhere in the universe.
Technological advances, such as the James Webb Space Telescope and interplanetary missions to Mars, are accelerating access to an overwhelming volume of new observations and data, making it necessary for a multidisciplinary network to converge in order to understand the emergence of life in the universe.