UCL and GOSH welcome first patients to The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children

UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) 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.

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