UCL Grand Challenges


UCL-French Embassy Science & Technology Workshops

Between 2012 and 2019, UCL and the French Embassy in London funded science and technology workshops which brought UCL researchers together with colleagues in French research institutions.

UCL and the French Embassy in London collaborated between 2012 and 2019 in support of an annual series of workshops with a science and/or technology focus.

A generous grant (~£20,000) from the Embassy enabled UCL Grand Challenges to run yearly calls for workshop proposals.

Through the eight years of the scheme, 28 workshops, hosted by UCL, engaged the interest and participation of almost 250 researchers from UCL and from research institutions across France.

The workshop series was one of two joint initiatives between Grand Challenges and the French Embassy’s Higher Education, Research & Innovation Department, the other being an annual cycle of Conference-Débat lectures, established 2010, on big cross-disciplinary topics, with speakers from UCL and research institutions in France.

More detail about the Conference-Débat Lecture cycles will be made available on the GC website in the next academic year (AY 21/22).


Artificial Intelligence + in silico methods + chemical libraries:
the new equation for Franco-British drug discovery from natural products

•    UCL: Dr Jose M. Prieto (UCL School of Pharmacy, Course Director MSc in Medicinal Natural Products & Phytochemistry)
•    France: Professor Bruno David (Medical School of Toulouse & Research Director in R&D of Natural Substances at the Research institute Pierre Fabre)

> Download workshop booklet
> School of Pharmacy News (login required)
> Natural Product Network

The power of graphs in machine learning and sequential decision-making

•    UCL: Dr Laura Toni (Lecturer, UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering)
•    France: Dr Michal Valko (Chargé de Recherche, INRIA Lille – Nord Europe - SequeL Team)

Plants, the City and Sound

•    UCL: Professor Nick Tyler CBE FREng (Chadwick Professor of Civil Engineering at UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering).
•    France: Professor Yves Duthen (Professor of Computer Science, Director of Research at IRIT (Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse))

Translational Application of Multidisciplinary Research for Incontinence:
Recent insights, emerging technologies and future directions

•    UCL: Professor Richard Day (Professor of Regenerative Medicine, UCL Division of Medicine)
•    France: Professor Olivier Boyer (Professor of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Rouen Normandy University)


Translational hearing science
Working towards consensus on patient selection and outcome measurement in clinical trials of innovative hearing treatments 

  • UCL: Professor Anne GM Schilder (Ear Institute, University College London, NIHR UCLH BRC Deafness and Hearing Problems Theme)
  • France:​​​​​​ Professor Christine Petit (Institut de l’Audition, Institut Pasteur, Paris)

Regulating new electricity markets:
UK and French expectations for self-consumption and peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading

  • UCL: David Shipworth (UCL Energy Institute)
  • France: Marta Torre-Schaub (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

> Read report (English)
> Read report (French)


Multi-scale approaches in epilepsy research

  • UCL: Louis Lemieux (Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy, Institute of Neurology), Karl Friston and Richard Rosch (Imaging Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology), Gerald Cooray (Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm), Yujiang Wang (School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle)
  • France: Victor Jirsa (Institut des Neurosciences des Systemés, Aix-Marseilles Université), Bartolomei Fabrice (Hopital de la Timone, Service de Neurophysiologie Clinique, Marseille), Maxime Guye (Centre for Magnetic Resonance in Biology & Medicine, Aix-Marseille University)

> Read the report (pdf)

Computational approaches to decision and affective neuroscience

  • UCL: Dr Robb Rutledge and Ray Dolan (Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry), Peter Dayan (Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit), Bendetto de Martino (Decision Making Group, Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience), Steve Fleming (Metacognition Group, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging)
  • France:Etienne Koechlin (Frontal Lobe Functions Group Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris), Hilke Plassmann (Economic Decision-Making Group Ecole Normale Superieure, INSEAD Business School, Paris), Mathias Pessiglione (Motivation Brain Behavior Group Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6)

> Read the report (pdf)

Bringing together pharma and food through sensory science towards health and wellness 

  • UCL: Catherine Tuleu  (Centre for Paediatric Pharmacy Research, UCL School of Pharmacy), Ben Hanson (UCL Mechanical Engineering), Mark Miodownik (UCL Institute of Making)
  • France: Anne-Marie Pensé-Lhéritier (Ecole de Biologie Industrielle, 95800 Cergy-Pontoise), Arnaud Aubert (Department of Psychology and Department of Neurosciences University of Tours), Agnès Giboreau (Institut Paul Bocuse), Sylvie Issanchou (Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation, Dijon)

> Read the report (pdf)

Retrofitting London and Paris via the Internet of Things:
Leading the transformation to sustainable megacities of the future (IoT2SUSTAIN)

  • UCL: Ioannis Andreopoulos, John Mitchell, Miguel Rio, Ryan Grammenos (UCL Electronic & Electical Engineering)
  • France: Thomas Watteyne, Valérie Issarny (Inria, Paris), Valeria Loscri (Inria, Lille)

> Read the report (pdf)

Unfolding Through Time:
Digital Innovation in the Built Environment

  • UCL: Claire McAndrew, Tim Broyd, Michael Pitt  (UCL Institute for Digital Innovation in the Built Environment)
  • France: Souheil Soubra, Justine Bonenfant, Eric Pascual (Centre Scientifique et Technique du Batiment), Ana-Marie Roxin — (University of Burgundy - UFR-ST – Laboratory LE2I UMR CNRS 6306), Bernard Ferries (Toulouse National School of Architecture – Architecture Research Laboratory)

> Read the report (pdf)


Managing Technology and Innovation in Complex Projects and Megaprojects

  • UCL: Professor Hedley Smyth, Professor Peter Morris, Professor Andrew Davies, Professor Andrew Edkins, Dr Efrosyni Konstantiou, Dr Stefano Miraglia, Alex Murray, Dr Taha Elhag (Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management)
  • France: Professor Laurence Lecoeuvre, Professor Rodney Turner, Professor Pierre Daniel, Professor Philippe Vaesken, Dr Carole Daniel, Dr Eric Daniel (Skema Business School, Lille University)

> Read the report (pdf)

Global Actors, Capital Flows and the Production and Regulation of the Built Environment:
A London-Paris Comparison

  • UCL: Professor Mike Raco, Dr Claire Colomb, Professor John Tomaney (Bartlett School of Planning), Professor Michelle Baddeley and Dr Yiming Wang (Bartlett Sch of Construction & Project Management)
  • France: Professor Patrick Le Galès and Dr Charlotte Halpern (Sciences-Po Paris), Professor Christine Lelevrier (Université Paris Est Créteil & Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée)

The contribution of hippocampal neural circuits to memory and spatial cognition:
Recent insights, emerging technologies and future directions

  • UCL: Dr Francesca Cacucci, Professor Neil Burgess, Professor Kate Jeffery, Professor John O’Keefe, Professor Hugo Spiers, 
    Dr Caswell Barry, Dr Thomas Wills (Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology, Div of Biosciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, UCL)
  • France: Dr Angelo Arleo (University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris), Dr Karim Benchenane — UMR 8249 CNRS ESPCI-ParisTech), Professor Bruno Poucet, Dr Francesca Sargolini (University of Aix-Marseille), Rosa Cossart,  Dr Jérôme Epsztein (Institut de Neurobiologie la Mediterranee in Marseille), Dr Michaël Zugaro (Ecole de Neuroscience, Paris), Dr Laure Rondi Reig (Institut de Biologie, Paris)

> Read more
> Read the report (pdf)

MRI based Virtual Histology:
Meeting Tomorrow’s Healthcare Challenges Today

  • UCL: Dr Aurobrata Ghosh, Dr Hui Zhang, Professor Daniel C. Alexander (Centre for Medical Image Computing, Computer Sciences, UCL)
  • France: Prof. Rachid Deriche, Dr. Demian Wassermann, Marco Pizzolato (Inria Sophia Antipolis Méditerranée)

> Read the report (pdf)

Mapping the Cosmic Web:
A Frontier in Cosmology and Astrophysics

  • UCL: Professor Ofer Lahav, Professor Richard Ellis, Professor Hiranya Peiris, Dr Joanna Fabbri, Dr Marc Manera, Benjamin Joachimi (Department of Physics and Astronomy)
  • France: Professor Christopher PichonProfessor Joseph Silk, Professor Benjamin Wandelt, Dr Aurélien Benoit-Lévy (Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris), Clotilde Laigle (Sorbonne Université)

> Read the report (pdf)


The Extended Hippo Tumour Suppressor Pathway in Cancer Cell Signalling and Autophagy

  • UCL: Dr Alexander Hergovich, Dr Pablo Rodriguez-Viciana (UCL Cancer Institute), Dr Robin Kettler (MRC LMCB, UCL)
  • France: Professor Jacques Camonis (Institut Curie, Paris), Dr Patrice Codogno (INSERMU1151-CNRS UMR 8253, University Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité), Professor Gerard Zalcman (INSERM UMR1086; University Caen-Basse Normandie, Caen), Dr Jaques Camonis (Institut Curie, INSERM U830, Paris)

> Read the report (pdf)

Virtual reality in rehabilitation, accessibility and mobility

  • UCL: Dr Tom Carlson (Aspire Centre for Rehabilitative Engineering and Assistive Technology, Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science), Dr Catherine Holloway (Biomechanical Instrumentation Group @PAMELA, UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), Professor Anthony Steed (Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics, UCL Computer Sciences), Dr Nadia Berthouze (UCL Interaction Centre – UCLIC)
  • France: Dr Eric Monacelli (Laboratoire d’Ingénierie des Systèmes de Versailles, Université de Versailles Saint Quentin), Dr Laurent Bougrain (University of Lorraine/Inria/CNRS), Dr Franck Mars (CNRS—Ecole Centrale de Nantes), Dr Evelyne Klinger (ESIEA: Laval), Dr Marie Babel (INSA Rennes, IRISA/ Inria), Dr Marie Pierre Pacaux Lemoine and Dr Chouki Sentouh (University of Valenciennes)

> Workshop briefing
> Read the report (pdf)

Lifecourse Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions:
Reconciling Research Advances         

  • UCL: Professor Amanda Sacker, Professor Yvonne Kelly (The International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health, UCL Research Department of Epidemiology & Public Health)
  • France: Dr Michelle Kelly-Irving et al. (Social Epidemiology Team, Inserm Research Unit for Epidemiology and Public Health, UMR1027, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse)

> Read the report (pdf)

Beyond the Standard:
DFT Approaches for the Simulation of Next-Generation Electronics

  • UCL: Dr David R. Bowler (UCL Physics & Astronomy)
  • France: Professor Frederic Castet et al. (Department of Chemistry, Institute of Molecular Sciences, University of Bordeaux)

> Read the report (pdf)


Translational Applications of Patient-Specific Cardiovascular Models

  • UCL: Professor Andrew M Taylor, Dr Silvia Schievano, Dr Giovanni Biglino, Dr Claudio Capelli (UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science)
  • France: Professor Hervé Delingette, Dr Maxime Sermesant, Dr Florian Vichot (Institut National de Recherhe en Informatique et en Automatique Sophia-Antiplois)

> Read the report (pdf)

Nanomaterials for Biomedical Applications

  • UCL: Professor Nguyễn TK Thanh (Physics and Astronomy), Professor Asterios Gavriilidis (Chemical Engineering), Dr Andreas Schätzlein and Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu (School of Pharmacy), Dr Christoph G. Salzmann, Dr Erik Arstad (Chemistry)
  • France: Professor Sylvie Colin-Begin (University of Strasbourg), Professor Etienne Duguet (University of Bordeaux),  Professor Nadine Millot (University of Burgundy), Professor Claire Billotey (University of Saint-Etienne), Dr Manuel Bardiès (Faculté de Médecine de Toulouse), Dr David Kryza (Université Claude Bernard Lyon), Professor Laurence Motte, Dr Amanda K Andriola Silva (Université Paris Diderot)

> Read the report (pdf)

Innovating the study and practice of strategic change initiatives

  • UCL: Dr Satu Teerikangas, Professor Peter Morris, Professor Andrew Davies, Professor Michelle Baddeley, Dr Hedley Smyth, Dr Stephen Pryke, Professor David Jemison, Professor Jim Meikle (UCL Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management)
  • France: Professor Philippe Véry, Professor Emmanuel Metais (EDHEC Business School), Professor Yvez Doz (INSEAD), Professor Pierre Dussauge (HEC Paris), Professor Philippe Monin, Professor Eero Vaara (EM Lyon), Associate Professor Audrey Rouziès, Associate Professor Nicola Mirc (University of Toulouse I)

> Read the report (pdf)

Hybrid Spin-Superconducting Quantum Devices

  • UCL: Dr John J. L. Morton, Dr Cheuk Chi Lo, Dr Jarryd Pla, Dr Edward Romans, Gary Wolfowicz (London Centre for Nanotechnology), Professor Sougato Bose (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences), Dr Dan Browne (Department of Physics and Astronomy), 
  • France: Dr Patrice Bertet, Ms Audrey Bienfait, Ms Cecile Grezes, Dr Yuimaru Kubo, Dr Michael Stern (CEA Saclay)

> Read the report (pdf)

Translational neuroscience research opportunities in Paris and London:
Epilepsy, ion channels and synapses

  • UCL: Professor Dimitri M Kullmann (UCL Institute of Neurology)
  • France: Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière: ICM – theBrain and Spine Unit), Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris 

> Read the report (pdf)


Seismic Fragility of Urban Buildings and Infrastructure

  • UCL: Dr Tiziana Rossetto, Dr Dina D’Ayala and Dr Philippe Duffour (EPICentre Research Group, UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)
  • France: Dr. Evelyne Foerster, Dr John Douglas, Dr Caterina Negulescu, Pierre Gehl (Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières), Dr Mustapha Meghraoui (University of Strasbourg,  Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg), Professor Ahmed Mebarki (University Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée)

> Read the report (pdf)

Quantum Technologies Network

  • UCL: Dr Fernando Brandao (UCL Computer Science), Dr Dan Browne (UCL Physics & Astronomy)
  • France: Professor Sophie Laplante, CNRS-LIAFA (Laboratoire d'Informatique Algorithmique - Fondements et Applications, Université Paris Diderot), Dr Eleni Diamanti, CNRS-LTCI (Laboratoire Traitement et Communication de l’Information, Telecom Paris Tech), Dr Alexei Grinbaum, CEA-Saclay /SPEC (Condensed Matter Physics laboratory of Saclay Institute for Radiation and Matter), Dr Marc Kaplan (CNRS-LTCI)

Theoretical Foundations of Network Analysis

  • UCL: Professor Valerie Isham and Dr Pierre-Andre Maugis (UCL Statistical Science), Professor Sofia Olhede and Professor Patrick Wolfe (UCL Statistical Science / UCL Computer Science); Dr John Talbot (UCL Mathematics)
  • France: Professors Pierre Borgnat and Patrick Flandrin (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon), Professor Eric Fleury (Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique, INRA-IXXI), Professor Matthieu Latapy (l'université Pierre et Marie Curie—UPMC), Professor Celine Levy-Leduc (Telecom ParisTech), Professor Clemence Magnien (Laboratoire d’Informatique de Paris 6)

Our Chemical Origins

  • UCL: Professor Serena Viti, Dr Jeremy Yates and Dr Thomas Bisbas (UCL Physics & Astronomy)
  • France: Professor Cecilia Ceccarelli and Dr Bertrand Lefloch (Laboratoire d'Astrophisique at the Observatoire de Grenoble—IPAG), Dr Claudio Codella (IPAG/Arcetri Observatory)

> Read the report (pdf)