UCL Grand Challenges
- Call for proposals: UCL–French Embassy science and technology workshops >> Details
- Closing the Gap: Aligning strategies towards sustainable resource use – Report from the October 2012, multi-stakeholder discussion
to debate the challenges facing more sustainable resource use, convened by UCL Grand Challenges and the UCL Institute for
Sustainable Resources, and supported by BHP Billiton
- In the run-up to Chinese New Year 2013, the UCL China Centre
for Health & Humanity will be showing four recent Chinese films
related to the UCL Grand Challenges, presented by three film specialists. >>Details
UCL Grand Challenges Student Fund: Support for students with bright ideas to tackle some of the world’s big issues
UCL Grand Challenges
UCL Grand Challenges – which include Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing – is the mechanism through which concentrations of specialist expertise across UCL and beyond can be brought together to address aspects of the world's key problems. It also provides an environment in which researchers are encouraged to think about how their work can intersect with and impact upon global issues.
UCL Grand Challenges is a central feature of the UCL Research Strategy, which aims to:
- cultivate leadership founded in excellence
- foster cross-disciplinarity grounded in expertise
- realise the impact of a global university.
UCL Grand Challenges builds on our accomplishment, expertise and commitment.
The radical vision of our founders two centuries ago continues to inform our research. They understood education and universities to be the key to reforming the world. They unshackled scholarship and enquiry, refusing to let religious restrictions and academic convention inhibit progress.
From its earliest days, UCL challenged the prevailing limitations on the scope of academic endeavour, engaging in teaching and research in new areas as required by the emerging industrial and commercial society. It pioneered research and teaching in, for example, law, architecture, medicine, geography, physics, chemistry, engineering and modern languages.
For almost two centuries, our staff and students have
undertaken research that has helped shape the modern world. Their
- advances in communications such as the invention of the thermionic valve, making modern electronics possible, the development of the telephone and wireless telegraphy, and the establishment of the first transatlantic computer network connection, the precursor of the internet
- biomedical breakthroughs such as the identification of hormones and vitamins, the first antiseptic treatment of wounds, and understanding of the physiology of nerve cells and their synaptic connections
- understanding of the immune system’s rejection of tissue and organ grafts, and of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
- discovery of the inert gases, including neon, which resulted in the first of 20 Nobel Prizes so far earned by our staff and students.
Today, UCL remains committed to developing and disseminating original knowledge to benefit the world of the future.
Medicine, architecture, laws, economics, computer science and
philosophy are among the academic disciplines at UCL to have achieved
outstanding results in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008,
with UCL’s total number of full-time equivalent staff rated of
world-leading quality third overall in the UK after Oxford and
The RAE assesses the research strength of UK universities, and informs the distribution of public funds to the sector by the nation’s higher education funding bodies. UCL submitted more than 1,800 staff in 49 of the 67 Units of Assessment. In the vast majority of UCL’s submissions, at least 50% of the staff submitted were ranked at either the highest grade of 4* (‘of world-leading quality’), or 3* (‘internationally excellent’).
Recent independent analysis of the Thomson Scientific Citation Index system – which catalogues journal articles and citations in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities – showed the extent to which our activity is informing the agenda for research worldwide. It demonstrated that UCL is the second most productive and the third most highly cited European university, and the UK university most-cited by health researchers. In neuroscience we have a historic and contemporary international reputation that is second to none.
We have also enjoyed exceptional success in competitive bidding for funds from the government’s Joint Infrastructure Fund, the Science Research Investment Fund and the Capital Investment Fund. On the basis of research excellence and volume, we are investing more than £360 million in state-of-the-art infrastructure, facilitating cutting-edge research across a broad range of disciplines.
We are world leaders across the breadth of academic disciplines – from neuroscience to urban planning, particle physics to health informatics and environmental law – and we have an ongoing commitment to innovation and relevance.
Our vision is matched by a unique set of strengths, including our location in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. UCL – London’s global university – has the opportunity and the obligation to contribute to tackling the major problems facing the world.
We embrace and celebrate the outstanding problem- and curiosity-driven research conducted by individuals and small groups. However, we can only address complex and systemic challenges by harnessing our collective expertise, by working across and beyond traditional disciplines.
We are positioning ourselves to build exponentially on our contribution to date. We are forming alliances and collaborations, across multiple disciplines, focused on issues of global significance. Initially, we have committed our research to address four Grand Challenges. We are establishing mechanisms whereby our expertise and analysis of these challenges can be brought into public fora to engage funding agencies, opinion-formers and legislators.
We will realise this vision in strategic partnership with other world-class universities, local and national governmental bodies, non-governmental organisations, the NHS, funding bodies and charities. We hope that you will consider the role that you or your organisation could play in our work.
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- UCL Grand Challenge of Global Health
- UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities
- UCL Grand Challenge of Intercultural Interaction
- UCL Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing
Page last modified on 18 feb 13 11:48