172 years of leaps in medical science at GOSH

14 Feb 2024, 6 a.m.

Today on Wednesday 14 February, GOSH is celebrating its 172nd birthday. With 2024 being a leap year, we wanted to look back at some of the leaps that we have made in medical science over the past 172 years…

The front entrance of Great Ormond Street Hospital as it was in 1852, captured in black and white.

1852 – First hospital in UK to dedicate care to children

GOSH opened with just 10 beds,and was the first hospital in the UK to offer dedicated inpatient care to children.

1934 – First hospital in the UK to obtain the Drinker Respirator

Also known as the ‘iron lung’, this device was used to treat polio by helping to expand children’s lungs, allowing them to breathe easier. It was subsequently loaned out to other hospitals.

Nurse in white outfit stood by young patient inside Drinker Respirator machine which looks like a large metal box. The photo is in black and white.

1950s – GOSH’s Thoracic Ward is established

GOSH’s Thoracic Unit, the UK’s first joint medical and surgical ward was established, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of children with chest and heart diseases.

1962 – GOSH pioneers first heart and lung bypass machine

This machine was used to help repair heart problems in children, and by 1967, 60 per cent of infants with severe heart and lung problems were surviving.

1970s – New technique developed to isolate vital immune cells

An immunologist at GOSH developed a technique used to isolate vital immune cells in the blood, extracting immune cells from a healthy donor and transplanting them into a child.

1988 – Transplant unit set up at GOSH

One of the first centres in the UK to carry out life-saving transplants on children with heart failure was set up. Today, the programme is one of the largest in the world, performing around 20 heart and lung transplants a year.

1999 – Kinder bone marrow transplant developed

With less intense chemotherapy, this new transplant helped treat children who were too sick for standard doses of drugs.

2001 – Groundbreaking programme of research into gene therapy begins

Immunologists at GOSH sparked a groundbreaking programme of research into gene therapy, a technique where a faulty section of DNA (a gene) is replaced with a working copy. The team began a trial that would become the second-ever successful trial of gene therapy for any disease anywhere in the world.

2012 – GOSH opens Europe’s first research centre to tackle birth defects

The Newlife Birth Defects Research Centre opened its doors in 2012

2015 – New wave of CAR T-cell research sparked around the world

GOSH immunologist used CAR T-cells to treat a one-year-old patient with ‘incurable’ leukaemia. This incredible world-first sparks a new wave of CAR T-cell research around the world.

2017 - Epic patient record system launched at GOSH

This was a big undertaking for the hospital but has transformed the way care is delivered to our patients.

2020 – Rapid profiling platform has global impact on COVID-19 reporting for children

The secure Digital Research Environment (DRE) allowed GOSH to set up a rapid COVID-19 profiling platform. This had a global impact as the single largest study of COVID-19 in children and the only study reporting on COVID-19 infection in children with underlying high-risk vulnerabilities.

2021 - 100,000 Genome Project uncovers new diagnoses for patients

A world-first scientific study with major involvement from GOSH, showed that whole genome sequencing could uncover new diagnoses for people across the broadest range of rare diseases investigated to date and could deliver enormous benefits across the NHS.

Cross-sectional images of fetus

2021 – Non-invasive imaging technique helps parents find answers after miscarriage

The imaging team at GOSH developed a non-invasive imaging technique for the post-mortem imaging of babies who are miscarried or stillborn. The technique can provide answers for bereaved parents and help tackle the stigma around pregnancy loss and miscarriage.

2022 - GOSH patient receives world-first treatment for 'incurable' T-cell leukaemia

13-year-old Alyssa became the first reported patient in the world to receive base-edited T-cells at GOSH, in collaboration with the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (UCL GOS ICH), to treat her ‘incurable’ T cell leukaemia.

Staff working at cell and Gene therapy clean room at the ZCR

2023 - GOSH receives new MHRA authorisation to manufacture viral vectors

GOSH was granted a Manufacturer's Authorisation Licence for the manufacture of viral vectors, which will enable an acceleration in cell and gene therapy clinical trials and expand the novel treatments that we can offer to our patients.

Looking ahead…

We are continually striving to boost translational research and innovation at GOSH and supporting the development of careers in these fields. For example, through funding we have received for the NIHR GOSH Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR GOSH Clinical Research Facility.

GOSH’s first-of-its-kind Data Research, Innovation and Virtual Environments Unit (DRIVE) is also exploring ways to use data and technology to transform patient care, improve the experience for staff delivering care and introduce efficiencies for the healthcare system. For example, DRIVE are currently exploring how Artificial Intelligence tools, remote monitoring and clinical data analytics could benefit patients and staff at the Trust.

And, with support from GOSH Charity, we are building our new Children’s Cancer Centre. Replacing the outdated Frontage Building, it will make a significant difference to everyone coming to GOSH. Alongside the four floors dedicated to cancer care, we will have a new main entrance and hospital school as well as additional theatres, critical care and imaging facilities.

Graphic of proposed new main entrance at Great Ormond Street Hospital

New specialist gender service starts

A new specialist service for children and young people who need gender-related care and support from the NHS has opened.

New plan announced to get more children access to gene therapy treatments

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), supported by LifeArc and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity), has announced plans to revolutionise how children living with a rare disease can gain access to life-changing treatments that hav

Statement regarding recent social media posts

This statement is made in response to allegations made across social media in relation to antisemitism awareness training being planned by the Trust.

First-of-its-kind study into the Ketogenic diet

A ketogenic diet, which is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, shows promise as an alternative treatment option for infants with drug-resistant epilepsy.