Sheikha Fatima makes large gift to paediatric research centre in London
ABU DHABI // A paediatric rare disease research centre is to open in London following a Dh377 million gift from the UAE.
The centre, at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, is expected to be operational by 2018 thanks to Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, widow of the late founding Father Sheikh Zayed, and chairwoman of the General Women’s Union.
“The most important work that we can undertake as a global society is to improve the health of future generations so that communities can thrive and grow,” she said. “To reach this goal, we must form collaborative partnerships that have the potential to benefit all children.”
More than 750 children from the UAE have been patients at the hospital over the past four years. They were among 220,000 patients the hospital treats every year.
“We see a lot of children with rare diseases so they’re relatively common,” said Professor Bobby Gaspar, director designate of the centre and a specialist in paediatric immunology and genetic therapy at Great Ormond Street. “There are more than 600,000 rare diseases and they can affect one in 17 of the population.”
In the majority of cases, he said, more than three-quarters affect children. “We see so many conditions so we wanted a centre that would look at understanding the cause of diseases and to develop new treatments for them,” he said. “They’re often genetic diseases and they go across lots of different spectrums, including children with heart conditions, respiratory conditions and disease of the bowel or blood system.”
The donation is in recognition of the hospital’s ability to lead ground-breaking research. It is expected to bring hundreds of clinical staff and researchers together where they will see patients and access state-of-the-art laboratory facilities under one roof.
“There’s not been a physical centre like this dedicated to looking at new treatments and new ways of improving the lives of children with rare diseases as far as we know,” Prof Gaspar said. “There’s no physical entity dedicated to these particular conditions so we’re very excited that we’ll bring researchers and children together to focus on research that will benefit these individuals.”
Professor Maha Barakat on visited Great Ormond Street yesterday as a representative of Sheikha Fatima to mark the announcement. She met some of the patients that could benefit from the research that will be undertaken.
The centre will house approximately 400 academics and clinical staff and feature more than 150 laboratory bench positions. The outpatient facility will accommodate 48 clinical staff and 140 patients with accompanying family members.
Updated: July 16, 2014 04:00 AM