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Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe


Efforts to bring together researchers working in planetary science and life in the Universe at the University of Cambridge started with the formation of the Cambridge Exoplanet Research Centre in 2013. The Centre aimed at stimulating joint coordinated efforts and collaborations between researchers based at the Cavendish Laboratory, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP), and the Institute of Astronomy (IoA). Research within the Centre focused on a series of key questions ranging from planet formation mechanics, structures and dynamics of planetary systems to the question of the remote detection of life on another planet.

These collaborative efforts were expanded to include researchers from Cambridge’s Departments of Chemistry and Earth Sciences through the formation of the Cambridge Initiative for Planetary Science and Life in the Universe (IPLU) in 2021. The Initiative aimed at facilitating the development of a new Cambridge research community investigating life in the Universe, from understanding how it emerged on Earth to examining the processes that could make other planets suitable for life.

In 2022, the University of Cambridge was awarded a £10 million grant from the Leverhulme Trust to establish the Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe, bringing together an international team of researchers to investigate the nature and extent of life in the Universe. The Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe was a bid to Leverhulme Trust’s call for “original research which would establish or reshape a significant field of study and transform our understanding of an important topic in contemporary societies”.

Building on the efforts made by the IPLU, the Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe will support fundamental cross-disciplinary research over the next 10 years to tackle one of the great interdisciplinary challenges of our time: to develop a deeper understanding of life, its emergence, and its distribution in the Universe.

Read more on the Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe here.