Rampant climate change, bioterrorism and intelligent computers are some of the dangers being investigated by the group, which includes Astronomer Royal Lord Rees and physicist Professor Stephen Hawking.
Lord Rees told the British Science Festival : "In future decades, events with low probability but catastrophic consequences may loom high on the political agenda.
"That's why some of us in Cambridge - both natural and social scientists - plan, with colleagues at Oxford and elsewhere, to inaugurate a research programme to compile a more complete register of these existential risks and to assess how to enhance resilience against the more credible ones."
The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk is in the process of seeking funding for projects.
Speaking at Newcastle University, Lord Rees said runaway technologies in areas such as synthetic biology were among issues of concern. He added: "We fret too much about minor hazards of everyday life: improbable air crashes, carcinogens in food, low radiation doses, and so forth.
"But the wide public is in denial about two kinds of threats: those that we are causing collectively to the biosphere, and those that stem from the greater vulnerability of our interconnected world to error or terror induced by individuals or small groups.
"To survive this century, we'll need the effective efforts of natural scientists, environmentalists, social scientists and humanists."