Merck Call For Proposals
Deadline: June 15, 2018
  USC Faculty and Researchers 
USC Stevens Center for Innovation 
Mina Zion, Associate Director, Corporate Collaborations
Dear Faculty and Researchers:
Merck is seeking research partners to stimulate innovation in challenging areas of importance.

The specific areas of interest are broken down into four (4) challenges:

Healthy Lives/Drug Discovery Challenge:
What is the next game-changing molecule or technology to help cure cancer or autoimmune disease?

Materials and Solutions Challenge:
How can you develop a new generation of intelligent materials? Such materials would be designed or molecular engineered to react to an external stimulus and change their physical properties in a defined way.  Examples could include self-healing materials that can automatically repair damage at a molecular level, sensing materials that change optical or electronic properties under defined stimuli, or materials that change shape or physical appearance under environmental changes (such as light, heat, electromagnetic field, pressure, chemical interaction, and so on).

Live Reimagined/Synthetic Biology:
(1) What are next generation production technologies for biologics? (2) How can you revolutionize microbiome research? This award would support the development of workflow tools, predictive models, culturing and imaging techniques, omics and informatics that enable technical advancements for deciphering the microbiome.
How can in-silico research benefit from deep learning or quantum computing?
Deep learning has led to spectacular advances in computing over the last years, conquering fields which previously seemed to be reserved for human intelligence and creativity -- for example, mastering the game of Go, recognizing images, or imitating the painting style of an artist. How can similar algorithms be applied to predicting the properties and behavior of new chemical substances or to suggest substances that would fit a given purpose? In 'traditional' in-silico research the simulation of a molecule is a difficult task due to the quantum nature of its particles, which leads to a very large number of degrees of freedom for the system. In quantum computing all information is stored in Q-bits, which behave inherently in a quantum-mechanical way. Is it possible to exploit this analogy and create super-efficient algorithms to simulate molecules?
Proposal Submission Process
All submissions will be reviewed by USC Stevens and subsequently presented to the corporate partner for review. Please complete the application form and submit it to
Amount of Funding
$250,000 per year for 3 years.
USC Stevens will be available for specific questions or comments. For more information, please contact Mina Zion at or 213-821-6068.
Best regards,
Mina Zion
Associate Director, Corporate Collaborations & Strategic Alliances
USC Stevens Center for Innovation