A former US military hospital and one-time presidential bunker built for the Cold War has been transformed into a health research centre that promises to transform paediatric care.
The new Children’s National Research and Innovation Campus in Washington DC is the latest example of a long-standing partnership with the UAE and has been developed thanks to a $30 million (Dh110m) donation from Abu Dhabi.
The centre was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed, chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Health, two years later than planned due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The Children’s National Research and Innovation Campus is another milestone that will serve the field of paediatric health care in the UAE, USA and beyond,” he said.
“We are proud to see the fruit of this brilliant collaboration and we were impressed to hear of all the milestones achieved in supporting children around the world, and proud to nourish partnerships with leading organisations to boost research and innovation capabilities in the healthcare industry."
Paediatric care has historically lagged behind that of adult healthcare, but that is slowly changing thanks to the specific kind of research conducted at the centre.
The 15,000-square-metre site is sponsored by pharmaceutical firm Johnson and Johnson that will host an incubator — known as JLABS — for health care and life sciences by supporting new businesses and researchers.
It also features a 300-seat auditorium and clinical care building, and Washington’s largest solar canopy, situated on top of the main parking garage.
The installation is part of the 'Solar for All' programme to provide more than 325 income-qualified households with clean, renewable energy and electricity bill savings over the next 15 years.
The latest collaboration aims to develop research focused on rare disease and oncology and review real-world evidence to evaluate current data sources to further improve health care for some of the most seriously ill children.
In the partnership of more than a decade, hundreds of UAE graduates and postgraduate health practitioners and doctors have been seconded to the hospital to train in specialist paediatric surgery, and other care disciplines.
Research at the centre will complement and expand on medical breakthroughs already taking place at the nearby Sheikh Zayed Institute at the Children’s National Hospital, which opened in 2009 with a $150 million (Dh550m) gift from the Emirates.
Since it was established, the Sheikh Zayed Institute has issued 40 new patents for paediatric medical innovations and licensed eight new companies to market paediatric medical technologies.
The hospital treats about 70 children from the UAE each year, who have a range of serious health conditions. including cancer, heart problems and neurological issues.
It has also become a prime destination for paediatric transplant surgery, using the latest techniques and innovation.
“For over a decade, the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Paediatric Surgical Innovation has advanced research and led the development of new techniques that make paediatric surgery less invasive and painful,” said Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE’s ambassador to the USA.
“The inauguration of the new Research and Innovation Campus at Children’s National further enhances our long-standing relationship and shared commitment to improving medical care for kids in the US, UAE and around the world.”