Our world has many problems. Together, we will find solutions.

Forging the Future, the UAB Strategic Plan, calls for the launch of one or more Grand Challenges at UAB. These are projects that unite unique UAB expertise—research, scholarship, teaching, commercialization, patient care, community service—around a single issue of high importance.


What is a grand challenge?

It’s a problem that is large, complex and multi-faceted.

Learn more about the Grand Challenge from Dr. Christopher Brown in the town hall presentation above.
Read a draft summary document and an overview presentation describing the UAB Grand Challenge. (Updated Feb. 2.)

Solving this problem requires a combination of technologies, treatments, approaches and/or policies. And the solution will positively impact a great number of people.


For example?

Several organizations and institutions have taken on grand challenges in recent years. The National Academy of Engineering has laid out 14 grand challenges for the profession in the 21st century, including preventing nuclear terror. At UCLA, faculty, staff and students are developing technologies, strategies and policies to make Los Angeles County 100 percent sustainable by 2050. Indiana University has joined a statewide effort to combat the opioid addiction and other addictions in Indiana.

A UAB grand challenge might aim to make Birmingham the healthiest city in America. Or tackle the complex of problems surrounding an aging society.


Who will choose UAB’s Grand Challenge?

The Grand Challenge will be selected in a multi-stage process, beginning with proposals submitted in spring 2018.

Any UAB student, faculty or staff member may submit a proposal. The process will begin with an official announcement of opportunity in March. An initial concept paper, no more than two pages in length, is due one month later, including a name for the challenge, the problem to be addressed, conceptualization of the plan of work, description of benefits to the people of Alabama and beyond, and a list of potential team members, including potential non-UAB partners.

Ideas in the concept papers will be refined in workshops during the spring. Teams will submit planning proposals in summer 2018 and a full proposal in spring 2019. The final decision and announcement will be made in summer 2019.

UAB’s vice president for research, Christopher Brown, Ph.D., is leading the Grand Challenge effort. Dr. Brown is currently meeting with groups across campus to explain the concept and selection process. A selection committee composed of UAB faculty and administrators will make the final project decision.

The Grand Challenge winner will receive substantial support from the UAB Strategic Investment Fund, matched from other sources. Funding will be up to five years in duration, with annual funding contingent on appropriate progress.

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