WASHINGTON // The state-of-the-art Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation has officially opened at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC.
Researchers, bio-medical engineers and clinicians had already moved into the research space on April 1 but a reception marked its official opening yesterday.
“Everyone gathered here today is playing an important role to turn the vision for this institute into reality: to make surgery more precise, less invasive and pain-free for children,” Yousef al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the US told the 70 health professionals present.
The Sheikh Zayed Institute of Pediatric Surgical Innovation was launched in September 2009 with a US$150 million grant from the UAE government, the largest such grant ever given to paediatric surgery. The Children’s National Medical Center has a longstanding relationship with the United Arab Emirates and treats many UAE patients every year.
The 22,000-square-foot institute, designed according to rigorous sustainability and energy efficiency standards, took a year from conception to completion.
There are few enclosed rooms. Instead, glass walls separate wet labs and bioengineering spaces, while key gathering points sport dry erase boards to allow for the exchange of ideas.
It is an environment that purposefully brings together professionals in different fields who might otherwise not have much cause to interact, said Dr Raymond Sze, a lead principal investigator in the Sheikh Zayed Institute and chief of the Division of Radiology at Children’s National.
“It forces people to collide and presents opportunities for those all-important chance conversations with people from different fields,” said Dr Sze. “Doctors and engineers work side by side, and this mixing of fields is very conducive to innovation and creativity.”
The collaborative research space occupies the sixth floor of the Children’s National Hospital and commands spectacular views of Washington. It has also attracted some of the top medical researchers in their field, and already boasts world leaders in robotic surgery, paediatric laparoscopic surgery and anaesthesiology.
“The Sheikh Zayed institute allows us to take children’s medicine to a whole new level,” said Edwin Zechman, the President and Chief Executive Office of Children’s National Medical Center, in the evening’s opening remarks. “It will allow us to serve the world for the next 100 years.”