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The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London

UAE donates $100m for a medical research centre in London


A Dh373-million grant from the UAE could soon pave the way towards diagnosing and treating a host of rare and complex diseases in children.

The grant, made by Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Al Nahyan, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, will help establish the Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children in London, under the umbrella of the Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh).

“This generous gift will give us an opportunity to change the lives of children with rare and complex diseases. The centre will seek to promote a better understanding of paediatric conditions and the development of new innovative therapies to treat and diagnose them,” Professor Bobby Gaspar, director-designate for the upcoming centre and paediatric consultant immunologist at Gosh, told Gulf News.

The donation is the largest of its kind made to Gosh, a centre of excellence in the healthcare of children aged up to 16 years.

‘Incredibly grateful’

“We are incredibly grateful for the grant, which will be used to construct a purpose-built five-storey structure to house the 13,000 square-metre centre,” Gaspar said.

Work on the facility will begin soon, and it is expected to be operational by 2018. Approximately 476 researchers and clinical staff will work there to build platform technologies, develop gene therapies and advance regenerative medicine. An outpatient section will also be able to conduct about 240 patient consultations each day, along with 60 clinical investigations.

Experts at Gosh are specialists in treating complex children’s diseases, including aggressive cancers, metabolic illnesses and immune conditions.

“For example, we pioneered the use of copied genes to replace defective ones in children. Our specialists have also used regenerative medicine, which makes use of the body’s own cells, to develop windpipes. This technology, we hope, can soon be used to regenerate other organs, including the lungs, bladder and oesophagus,” Gaspar said.

Genetics will form another area of focus at the future facility, especially because the identification and working of the genetic components of a complex disease can help find cures for them or prevent them from occurring.

Gaspar added that the therapies and methods developed at the centre will advance global paediatric healthcare.

“Our patients come from all over the UK, and we see a fair number from the Middle East as well,” he said.

Such grants to specialist healthcare facilities are often made by the UAE. Another instance is a $150 million (Dh550 million) grant made by the Abu Dhabi Government in 2009 to the United States-based Children’s National Medical Centre, this helped set up the Shaikh Zayed Institute for Paediatric Surgical Innovation in Washington.

Shaikha Fatima takes an active interest in the development of community and healthcare within the UAE and abroad.

Source: Gulf News

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