Zayed Centre for Research welcomes VIP visitors
17 Sep 2021, 4 p.m.
The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children today welcomed a group of visitors including His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid MP and the Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi MP.
They toured the state-of-the-art facility, which brings together pioneering research and clinical care under one roof, to learn more about the impact of its work.
The Zayed Centre for Research opened to patients and researchers in October 2019 thanks to a transformational £60m gift from Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the United Arab Emirates. Its researchers and clinical staff are helping drive forward new treatments and cures for seriously ill children from across the UK, and international patients too.
A vital role in the fight against Covid-19
Representatives from GOSH, GOSH Charity and UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health took the visiting group on a tour of the main laboratory in the Centre, which has 140 dedicated research benches and is home to its genomics team. During the pandemic, their work has supported GOSH’s response to Covid-19, including sequencing 15,500 samples from hospitals, the community and travellers returning to the UK to help scientists learn about the changing nature of the virus.
The delegation also saw the state-of-the-art specialist clean rooms - the largest single academic manufacturing unit for gene and cell therapies in the UK and one of the largest in the world – where products are manufactured for use in groundbreaking gene therapy trials. These facilities also enabled the manufacture of the Covid-19 virus to supply to the world’s first human challenge trial earlier this year.
The importance of rare disease research for children
GOSH Charity is the largest dedicated funder of paediatric research in the UK and many of the researchers based in the Zayed Centre for Research are also supported by funding from GOSH Charity, including Mahboubian Professor in Gene Therapy Professor Claire Booth, who met the delegation to share more about how her work using gene therapy has helped develop a potential cure for a previously incurable condition called ADA SCID, where children are born without an immune system. Research into rare diseases is a key priority for the hospital and charity, as many children rely on research to offer the hope of effective treatments or even a cure for their condition.
Louise Parkes, Chief Executive of GOSH Charity, reflected on the importance of the visit: “It was an honour to introduce our guests to the pioneering work taking place in the Zayed Centre for Research and to hear from our experts who are pushing the boundaries of medicine in so many exciting areas including gene therapy, genomics and virology.
“As a charity we have long known the importance of funding and facilitating high quality research; for many children with rare diseases, research is their only hope of a treatment or a cure. We were delighted to show His Highness the impact of his family’s transformational donation that enabled the creation of the Zayed Centre for Research, and to highlight to members of the UK government the extraordinary skill and commitment of the staff working in the Centre in the face of a global pandemic as well as in the ongoing fight against paediatric rare diseases.”
The Zayed Centre for Research is also supported by Research England, The Wolfson Foundation, John Connolly & Odile Griffith and the Mead Family Foundation. The Centre is a partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.