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What we mean by a Grand Challenge

UCLA Grand Challenges are ambitious research projects that connect hundreds of faculty, students, community members and leading experts across every field to solve society’s toughest problems. Developed through an intensive faculty working group ideation process the two Grand Challenges are the biggest, most collaborative, and potentially most transformative efforts UCLA has undertaken to date, and the discoveries and scholarship produced are delivering real benefit to California, the Nation, and the world. See the FAQs for more information about our drivers. 

The Depression Grand Challenge was announced in October 2015. The DGC aims to cut the global burden of depression on human health in half by 2050 and eliminate it by the end of the century. 

Visit the Depression Grand Challenge website.

An aerial view of Los Angeles, taken from a mountain.

The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge was publicly revealed in November 2013. The initial goal of this Grand Challenge was to create a plan to transition Los Angeles County to 100% renewable energy, 100% locally sourced water and enhanced ecosystem health by 2050.

Visit the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge website.

UCLA began a trend

As UCLA was the first campus to embark on this type of campus-wide effort, the campus continues to serve as a model and resource for other universities exploring similar initiatives. We have advised dozens of institutions within and outside of the United States since 2014. In 2018, Michelle Popowitz co-authored with Cristin Dorgelo, a Report on University-Led Grand Challenges, which continues to serve as a resource to other universities. 

Read the Report on University-Led Grand Challenges

The two Grand Challenges are now integrated into the campus fabric

The UCLA Grand Challenges Initiative has undergone many developments since its origin in 2012.  Today, the two Grand Challenges have evolved into distinct, independent initiatives and departments within the UCLA Office of Research and Creative Activities, supported with campus funds, grants from federal and other sources, industry sponsorships and philanthropy. The campus investment includes in-kind and direct funding support. See the Timeline for a summary of key milestones.

This site is preserved to serve as a historic record of the evolution of the two grand challenges, our accomplishments, collaborations and impact.

Apple cites UCLA Depression Grand Challenge research; launches innovative mental health features for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch devices

L.A. asks how to equitably achieve 100% clean energy by 2035 – and UCLA answers