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Sheikha Fatima helps fund London-based Zayed Centre for Research

The world’s first purpose-built centre for paediatric research on rare diseases was named after the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, on Monday.

The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children was facilitated by a gift of £60 million (Dh335 million) by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the wife of the late Sheikh Zayed who is also Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council of Motherhood and Childhood.

The name was announced at a celebration at Coram’s Fields in Bloomsbury, London, across from the site of the building, which is scheduled to open in 2018, reported state news agency Wam.

Dozens of young patients attended the event and participated in arts and crafts as well as cultural activities.

Prof Maha Barakat, director general of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, represented Sheikha Fatima at the event. Abdulrahman Almutaiwee, UAE Ambassador to the UK, also attended the event for the centre, which is a partnership between the Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London and the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

The centre “will become a centre of excellence, tackling some of the most challenging children’s diseases”, Prof Barakat said.

“Through the treatment and cure of thousands of children, the centre will serve as a global research hub, benefiting children and families from around the world,” she said.

The commitment to children’s health “echoes the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed, who throughout his lifetime became involved in many collaborations to ensure the health and well-being of children everywhere”, she said.

The centre is expected to bring together hundreds of researchers and clinicians to find new treatments and cures for children with rare diseases.

“It is a great honour for this state-of-the-art research and medical building to carry the late Sheikh Zayed’s name,” said Bobby Gaspar, professor of paediatrics and immunology at University College London and consultant in paediatric immunology at Great Ormond Street Hospital, as well as director-designate for the Zayed Centre.

“Working together, the hospital and university have an amazing opportunity and important responsibility to find new treatments and cures for children who often have nowhere else to go.

“Recent advances in science and technology offer new hope, particularly in the realms of genetics and stem-cell therapies.

“And by bringing this knowledge, the latest technology and patients together under one roof, we hope the work taking place in the Zayed Centre for Research will allow us to make breakthroughs and develop cures for rare diseases quicker than ever before, giving children everywhere the chance of a longer and fuller life.”

About 1,300 children from the UAE have been patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital, which treats children from more than 80 countries. The Zayed Centre will be located next to the hospital and University College London Institute of Child Health, and contain laboratory facilities and a large outpatient facility.

It is expected to feature 400 academics and clinical staff as well as 150 laboratory bench positions, while the outpatient division will accommodate more than 200 patients and family members at a time.

The total cost of the project is expected to be £90 million (Dh50 million).

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(via The National)