Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, visited the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children in London on Friday.
He toured the facility meeting with researchers, professors and doctors working on its pioneering research and life-saving treatments.
Matthew Shaw, chief executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital, and Prof Rosalind Smyth, Director of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said the centre’s world-first model for paediatric medicine brings together under one roof cutting-edge research and world-class clinical care.
A bench-to-bedside approach accelerates the diagnoses, treatment and cures of rare diseases in children, said officials.
During a tour of the main laboratory – which includes 140 dedicated research benches and a genomics team lab – Sheikh Mohamed was briefed on the centre’s specialist facilities that have enabled it to play a vital role in the global response to Covid-19.
The Pathogen Genomics Unit has sequenced 15,500 samples, informing scientists of the changing nature of the coronavirus, and the impact of new and repurposed drugs in the treatment of serious viral infections in children.
At the centre Sheikh Mohamed met Ali, 10, who staff say is improving steadily as he undergoes treatment at the renowned Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Sheikh Mohamed wished Ali well and expressed his gratitude to the hospital staff for their kind and expert care. He emphasised that the value of helping sick children – particularly those far from home – can never be underestimated.
"I was greatly inspired by the pioneering research and clinical care being conducted at the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children in London. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the entire team for their incredible work helping children & families from around the world," Sheikh Mohamed said on Twitter.
The centre, which will celebrate its second anniversary in November, is a partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity,
It was made possible thanks to a generous £60 million gift in 2014 from Mother of the Nation Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation.
The visit was also attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Zayed; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoun, chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports; Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority; Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, undersecretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi; Mansoor Abulhoul, UAE ambassador to the UK; and Prof Maha Barakat, director general of the Frontline Heroes Office.
Accompanying them were UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.
Since opening in 2019, the Zayed Centre for Research has had more than 89,000 patient appointments and treated more than 22,000 children in Falcon Outpatients facility. Some 68% of appointments were for children seen for cardiology.
It is part of Great Ormond Street Hospital, 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.