Challenge Initiative at UCLA

In the Challenge Initiative at UCLA, we identify unsolved problems in medicine, engineering, and industry, put together interdisciplinary teams to develop novel solutions, and seed the initial efforts to reach key early milestones towards solutions. A significant part of this effort is in training junior faculty, students, and staff in how to look at problems in new ways and how to work across fields, sharing approaches, methods and tools, as well as developing new approaches.

Led by Prof. Paul S. Weiss, a core team of faculty have significant experience as entrepeneurs, inventors, and government, corporate, and international advisors, and thus have become valuable for their problem-solving skills. We teach trainees and junior colleagues how to identify and to take on significant problems that the world faces. In so doing, we diversify our available perspectives and expand the talent pool of future problem solvers. The Initiative is a significant recruiting tool, as our trainees and colleagues are able to see and to contribute solutions to broad ranges of problems. In this way, we select an intellectually curious and strongly motivated group. The Initiative leverages the collaborative, interdisciplinary, intellectual, and entrepreneurial strengths of UCLA. We teach communication skills across fields.

By identifying problems before others do, we generate both new ideas and new intellectual property that is then developed by our faculty, students, and staff. We leverage the strong support of the UCLA Technology Development Group and the rich, creative atmosphere of Los Angeles and Southern California. We reach out to the leading engineers and clinicians in the world to partner, as needed, to advance our efforts. We partner with like-minded institutions globally, in their areas of expertise, to disseminate what we are doing. We engage UCLA alumni and friends to mentor and to support these efforts, guiding them to translation and success.


Faculty Involved

Prof. Anne M. Andrews, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry

Prof. Sahar Ansari, UCLA Dentistry

Prof. Andrea Bertozzi, UCLA Mathematics

Prof. Jun Chen, UCLA Bioengineering

Prof. Dino DiCarlo, UCLA Bioengineering

Prof. Joseph DeSimone, Stanford University

Prof. Andrea Ghez, UCLA Physics & Astronomy

Prof. Yongjie Hu, UCLA Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Prof. Steven J. Jonas, UCLA Pediatrics

Prof. Mireille Kamariza, UCLA Bioengineering

Prof. Ric Kaner, UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry and Materials Science & Engineering

Prof. Song Li, UCLA Bioengineering

Prof. Alireza Moshaverinia, UCLA Dentistry

Prof. Deborah Nadoolman Landis, UCLA Theatre, Film, & Television

Prof. Prineha Narang, UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry

Dr. Rahmi Oklu, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale

Prof. Aydogan Ozcan, UCLA Electrical & Computer Engineering

Prof. Jaimie Stewart, UCLA Bioengineering

Prof. H. R. Tseng, UCLA Pharmacology

Prof. Paul S. Weiss, UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry, Bioengineering, and Materials Science & Engineering

Prof. Joey Chifamba, University of Zimbabwe Pharmacology (currently visiting professor at UCLA)



Executive Board

Prof. Paul S. Weiss, Chair

Prof. Anne Andrews, Wellness Lead

Prof. Andrea Bertozzi, Smart Data Lead

Prof. Andrea Ghez

Prof. Michael Jung, Therapeutics and Medicinal Chemistry Lead

Prof. Deborah Nadoolman Landis

Prof. Prineha Narang, Quantum Lead


External Advisory Board Chair

Mr. David Steinberg, Founder and CEO of Zeta Global, Inc.


Support the Challenge Initiative

Challenge Initative