MBZ London Zayed Centre
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan tours the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children Image Credit: Supplied

London: The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children (ZCR) on Friday welcomed His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who toured the facility and met with researchers, professors and doctors to learn about the centre’s lifesaving research and treatments.

Upon arrival at the centre, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed was received by UK’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid; and UK’s Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi.

Matthew Shaw, CEO of Great Ormond Street Hospital, and Professor Rosalind Smyth, Director of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said the centre’s world-first model for paediatric medicine, which brings together under one roof cutting-edge research and world class clinical care. This bench-to-bedside approach accelerates the diagnoses, treatment and cures of rare diseases in children.

MBZ visit Zayed Centre London
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed met senior officials during his visit to the centre Image Credit: Supplied

Vital role in pandemic

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed toured the main laboratory, which includes 140 dedicated research benches and the genomics team lab, and 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 virus, and the impact of new and repurposed drugs in the treatment of serious viral infections in children.

The visit also included a briefing on the importance of the state-of-the-art specialist clean rooms – the largest single academic manufacturing unit for gene and cell therapies in the UK and one of the largest in the world, where products are manufactured for use in ground-breaking gene therapy trials.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed also had the opportunity to thank Mohamed Al Ameri, a ZCR researcher and PhD candidate of Epigenetics of Pediatric Leukaemia Diagnostics, UCL, for his pioneering research into how a person’s DNA is altered in cancer cells, highlighting that this work has the potential to not only benefit cancer patients in the UAE, but also the world over.

MBZ London Tour Zayed
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed thanked doctors and researchers for all their efforts during the tour Image Credit: Supplied

While at the Centre, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed met Ali Hamed Al Ketbi, a 10-year old patient, who is improving steadily as he undergoes treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Sheikh Mohamed wished Ali well, and expressed his gratitude to the hospital staff for their kind and expert care, emphasising the value of helping sick children, particularly those who are far from home, can never be underestimated.

Dh303 million gift

The centre, which will celebrate its second anniversary in November, is a partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. It was made possible thanks to a gift of 60 million British pounds (around Dh303.2 million) in 2014 from Her Highness 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.

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Accompanying visitors

The visit was also attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports; Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority; Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Undersecretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi; Mansour Abulhoul, UAE Ambassador to the UK; and Professor Maha Barakat, Director General of the Frontline Heroes Office.