GOSH celebrates one year anniversary of the opening of the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Diseases in Children

It’s been a year since the Zayed Centre for Research opened its doors to patients, clinicians and researchers from across Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and UCL, and to celebrate we’re taking a look back at its work and achievements.

It opened prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the things we thought would take place in the Centre have happened such as seeing thousands of patients. But some of the research activity changed as our people and their skills and our facilities were put in service of supporting the hospital treat patients during the pandemic and on research activity to understand and inform our management of the virus.

Researchers have worked together to test patient and staff member samples to allow staff and patients to be treated, and have “sequenced” over 1,300 Covid-19 genomes. This helps scientists to learn about gradual changes in the virus over time and can reveal how it is spreading through different parts of the population.

In October it was announced that the first human challenge trial for a Covid-19 vaccine would take place. The Zayed Centre for Research state-of-the art facilities have been singled out for their quality and scale and will manufacture the virus needed for the trial.

Professor Judith Breuer of GOSH and UCL has played a key part in pivoting research efforts: “We’ve been continuing the UK effort to sequence Covid-19 genomes which is being used to understand the spread of the virus in the country. We’re also using sequencing to try and understand the impact of drugs, and that follows on directly from the work that is already underway in the Zayed Centre for Research to understand more about how viruses affect children.”

The Zayed Centre for Research’s award winning design and facilities have helped the researchers and clinicians over a challenging few months, as Judith explains:

“The Zayed Centre for Research is just a wonderful place to work in, it’s so light and beautiful. It’s been particularly good when we’ve had to socially distance, as the large space is incredibly adaptable to the requirements for safe working during the pandemic. We have been fortunate to have access to these exceptional facilities to match the expertise of the teams working around the clock to help us improve the care we can offer to seriously ill children.”

The Centre has seen over 13,300 children attend appointments in Falcon Outpatients, where they have received expert care for rare and complex conditions.

The Zayed Centre for Research was made possible thanks to a transformative £60 million gift from Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates, in 2014. We are also grateful to Research England, The Wolfson Foundation, John Connolly & Odile Griffith and the Mead Family Foundation whose generous support contributed to the creation of the Zayed Centre for Research. The centre is a partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital, UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Mat Shaw, Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital said:

“Collaboration is absolutely critical for the work we do for seriously ill children and never more so than at a time when we are facing the challenges that Covid-19 has presented. It’s amazing for both GOSH and UCL to have this facility to work together in, and it’s thanks to the incredible dedication and collaboration of scientists, researchers and clinicians from across our organisations that we have achieved so much in such a short space of time.”

Watch our short video on the incredible work of the ZCR throughout the year, below:

If the video is not showing, please watch it on YouTube