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Brand New Medical Facility Marks New Era in Rare Disease Research For World Famous Children's Hospital

10/25/2019
Kai and family at their first appointment

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and UCL today celebrated the opening of The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children, by welcoming the first patients through its doors for treatment.

The purpose-built Zayed Centre for Research brings together pioneering research and clinical care under one roof in a world-first that will help to drive forward new treatments and cures for seriously ill children from across the UK and international patients. The new facility has been built next to Great Ormond Street Hospital and UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health in London.

One of the first patients to be treated at the Zayed Centre for Research is Kai Clark, aged 10, from Essex. Kai has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a rare cardiac condition, and he experienced multiple cardiac arrests before receiving a donor heart earlier in 2019. Kai will attend the outpatient clinics at the Zayed Centre for Research, and is taking part in a research project led by Dr Juan Kaski, which is aiming to discover new biological markers of inherited cardiac conditions.

The state-of-the-art facilities will enable hundreds of researchers and clinicians to work side by side, so that patients will benefit from the latest developments in the laboratory, accelerating the progress of new diagnoses, treatments and cures for rare and complex diseases. The results could help change the lives of children both nationally and globally.  

The building includes a cardiac research suite with facilities for 3-D modelling, specialist facilities which allow the manufacture of ground-breaking cell and gene therapies, multiple tissue culture rooms for testing potential new treatments, as well as an open plan laboratory with more than 150 laboratory bench positions.

The new facilities have been designed especially with children in mind. There is a sensory room for children to relax before appointments, and educational play activities to help children understand what’s happening with their bodies and how research can help them. There is a child-friendly outpatient consultation area, with a view down into the Centre’s main laboratory and its researchers which will create a unique and direct connection between patient families and the research that will benefit them. The values of curiosity, collaboration and innovation are at the heart of the Zayed Centre for Research and are reflected in a series of artworks specially commissioned to create an inspiring, engaging and welcoming environment for patients, their families, visitors and staff.

The Zayed Centre for Research was made possible thanks to a transformative £60 million gift from Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder  of the United Arab Emirates, in 2014. It is a partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital, UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Matthew Shaw, Chief Executive at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH) said: “I am delighted to see this world-leading facility open its doors and welcome patients for 

the very first time. The opportunities that the Zayed Centre for Research offers for the integration of technology with cutting-edge medical research, and the collaboration we’ll see between research and clinical teams working side by side is incredibly exciting.

“As I walk around the new facility, it is clear the potential it holds to change the lives of children with the rarest and most complex diseases, and the hope it will offer to their families. On behalf of everyone at GOSH, I’d like to thank all our partners and donors who have made The Zayed Centre for Research possible.” 

Professor Rosalind Smyth, Director of the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH) said: “All those responsible for the clinical care of children have a responsibility to try to improve that care; one important way of achieving that is through research.  It is wonderful to see excellent clinical care and world-leading research fully integrated in this iconic new centre.” 

Dr Juan Kaski, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital said, "It's amazing that while I'm seeing patients with inherited heart disease in our clinics in the Zayed Centre for Research, my research team will be in the lab, in the same facility, analysing their samples and looking for new treatments. The state of the art facilities juxtaposed with outpatient clinics will be so inspiring for both patients and researchers and will help accelerate new treatments from the bench to the bedside."

Facts about The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children

·        500 researchers, clinicians and allied health professionals from GOSH, ICH, and from UCL’s Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences will work in the state-of-the-art facilities

·        200 patients a day will be seen in the Centre as outpatients

·        The Centre has more than 160 lab bench positions

·        The Centre has 10 rooms and 86 incubators for growing cells in the lab

·        The Centre houses 21 consultation rooms and eight clinical investigation rooms

·        The Centre is home to the largest dedicated clean room facility of its kind in Europe housing seven highly specialised labs where cell and gene therapy-based medicines can be developed

·        The Centre features a state-of-the-art stem cell facility that will develop new treatments for children with conditions from blindness to nerve disorders

·        The Centre has a designated family room is available for discussing treatment plans or research opportunities in a private and comfortable setting

·        The Centre has been built with sustainability in mind – 134 solar panels are embedded on its roof

·        The Centre was constructed using 70,000 bricks and 4,520 tonnes of steel.

About the The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children

The Zayed Centre for Research is a partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. It will bring together pioneering research and clinical care under one roof to drive forward new treatments and cures for children with rare and complex diseases.

Great Ormond Street Hospital

Great Ormond Street Hospital is one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals with the broadest range of dedicated, children’s healthcare specialists under one roof in the UK. The hospital’s pioneering research and treatment gives hope to children from across the UK with the rarest, most complex and often life-threatening conditions. Our patients and families are central to everything we do – from the moment they come through the door and for as long as they need us.

About UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. We were the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine.

We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables, and are committed to changing the world for the better.

About the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH)

The UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health is part of the Faculty of Population Health Sciences within the School of Life and Medical Sciences at UCL. Together with its clinical partner Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH), it forms the largest concentration of children's health research in Europe.

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity needs to raise money to support the hospital to give children who need help the most, the best chance for life. The charity funds research into pioneering new treatments for children, provides the most up to date medical equipment, funds support services for children and their families and supports the essential rebuilding and refurbishment of the hospital. You can help us to provide world class care for our patients and families

About Research England

Research England is a public body that shapes healthy, dynamic research and knowledge exchange in universities. It distributes over £2.2bn every year to universities, primarily in England but also in the rest of the UK; it works to understand their strategies, capabilities and capacity; and it supports and challenges universities to create new knowledge, strengthen the economy, and enrich society. Research England is part of UK Research and Innovation alongside the seven Research Councils and Innovate UK. www.ukri.org/re @ResEngland
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