UCL Grand Challenge of Global Health

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UCL Grand Challenge of Global Health (GCGH): About Our Work

UCL GCGH Word Cloud

The UCL Research Strategy defines Grand Challenges: those areas in which we are facilitating cross-disciplinary interaction – within and beyond UCL – and applying our collective strengths, insights and creativity to overcome problems of global significance.

The first of these is the Grand Challenge of Global Health.

Billions of us lack access to adequate food, water, sanitation, medicine and education. Unnecessary suffering – for example through HIV/Aids and malarial infection – prevails, despite the breakthroughs in medical sciences that have made it possible to prevent, contain, manage and eliminate much disease. Solutions to a whole range of health problems around the world are within our grasp, yet societal and natural forces conspire to prolong and extend the destruction of huge numbers of our fellow humans.

UCL’s intellectual resources – the understanding of these societal and natural forces, in partnership with biomedical expertise – provide both our opportunity and our obligation to contribute to the achievement of equity in global health.

Find out more below, or explore Getting Involved

UCL Grand Challenges and the UCL Research Strategy

UCL Grand Challenges – which also include 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. They also provide 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.

GCGH Principles

Our research aims to overcome the barriers to achieving health for everyone in the world. To do so, we believe that our research must be conducted according to the following principles:

  • Our method is holistic

We unite our broad range of academic disciplines to focus on global health, from basic science and the development of novel interventions, through clinical evaluation to technology transfer and implementation at scale.

  • Our efforts are evidence-based

Our research programmes measure key outcomes to demonstrate improvements in health and reductions of mortality rates.

  • Our approach is collaborative

We build on networks with premier overseas institutions, policymakers and practitioners, and with local teams in resource-poor settings, to foster innovative, relevant solutions to partner countries’ particular experiences of global-health problems.

  • Our work is action-oriented

Good research leads to the identification and development of effective technological, educational and structural interventions. We collect evidence in the real world, evaluate interventions in communities and put our research into practice so that it can provide practical solutions for policymakers to implement on a large scale.

  • Our programme is empowering

We support locally led actions developed in poor communities, strengthening their capabilities and facilitating their engagement with governments. We build international networks of academics to promote research and teaching capacity in the developing world.

  • Our activity promotes equity and security

We are alert to the social and economic determinants of health and recognise that the reduction of social inequities and insecurity results in healthier and more harmonious populations.

GCGH Potential

UCL has an existing international profile in the major disciplines that are key to addressing barriers to sustainable improvement of global health.

These include anthropology, development planning, political science, built environment, law, climatology, human rights, economics and biomedicine.

Within and beyond those disciplines perceived as central to the issue of global health are many thousands of expert individuals, working at the very forefront of their disciplines – from philosophy to transport studies, computer science to gender studies, environmental engineering to security science.

Much of this work is not explicitly ‘global’ or ‘health’ in nature. It all, however, has a role to play in addressing the Grand Challenge of Global Health. 

Significant outcomes result from these great minds acting in combination. Bringing together differing perspectives, understandings and procedures produces novel solutions.

Global-health problems are complex and systemic. Their resolution requires more than interdisciplinary collaboration; it demands partnership transcending the boundaries between disciplines. 

Page last modified on 18 apr 12 16:18