Introducing the Depression Grand Challenge

Campus Update

Chancellor Block announces the bold steps UCLA will take to work to eliminate depression by the end of the century.

I am pleased to announce the second UCLA Grand Challenge, which targets depression. Each of us knows someone who suffers or has suffered from depression, and none of us is immune from its effects. Depressive disorders wreak havoc in the lives of millions, including our family members, friends and colleagues. Depression adversely affects health, work and relationships, and it is the strongest risk factor for suicide.

UCLA researchers have been at the forefront of discoveries and innovative treatments that have led to a better quality of life for many who struggle with depression.

Now, in announcing the Depression Grand Challenge, UCLA is committing to cutting the burden of depressive disorders in half by the year 2050, and to eliminating it by the end of the century.

More than 100 UCLA faculty members in 25 departments already are involved in cross-disciplinary research into depressive disorders and we expect that number to grow. The Depression Grand Challenge comprises four interrelated components:

  • Finding the causes of depression through a 100,000-person genetic study, the largest ever for a single disorder.
  • Focusing on discoveries in neuroscience to understand the brain’s role in depressive disorders.
  • Creating an innovative treatment center for people at risk for, or suffering from, depression.
  • Understanding and dismantling the stigma associated with depression.

The Depression Grand Challenge is being led by Nelson Freimer, the Maggie G. Gilbert Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and associate director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Also on the executive committee are Michelle Craske, a professor of psychology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and the director of the Anxiety and Depression Research Center at UCLA; S. Lawrence Zipursky, a professor of biological chemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator; and Jonathan Flint, an esteemed depression researcher who is leaving Oxford University to join our faculty and will lead the 100,000-person study.

To learn more about the Depression Grand Challenge and the Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge, which launched in 2013, please visit the UCLA Grand Challenges website. From there, you may subscribe to a receive updates from leaders about our progress to meeting our ambitious goals, and learn why UCLA is uniquely positioned to achieve the objectives of each Grand Challenge.

Please join me in supporting our efforts to achieve the goals set forth in our Grand Challenges, which promise to enhance the lives of so many people in Los Angeles, throughout our nation and around the world.

  • Gene D. BlockChancellor