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New Surgery Institute at Children's National Medical Center Aims to Improve Surgery and Eliminate Pain

$150 Million Gift is Largest Ever for Pediatric Surgery

Washington, DC (Vocus) September 16, 2009 -- Children's National Medical Center today announced that it will create a new Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, made possible by a $150 million gift from the Government of Abu Dhabi.

"This is a great day for Children's National, but it's an even greater day for children," said Edwin K. Zechman, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Children's National. "This gift will enhance our mission to transform children's health for all children, not just the ones who come to this hospital."

Kurt Newman, MD, senior vice president of the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care at Children's National, said, "The creation of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation represents an incredible investment in knowledge and ideas that will lead to life-saving discoveries. Our plan is to make surgery more precise, less painful, and less invasive."
The institute will focus on four key areas:

  • Pain medicine -- to alleviate and eventually eliminate pain.
  • Immunology - to use a child's own immune system to fight illness and cure disease - without the need for surgery.
  • Bioengineering - to harness the full power of science and technology to make treatment as precise as it can possibly be.
  • Personalized medicine -- to tailor treatment for every child depending on their own unique genetic makeup.
His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, chairman of the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi, said, "Through the generosity of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the people of Abu Dhabi are honored to support the vision of Children's National Medical Center to improve children's lives. We share a commitment to alleviating suffering and curing disease for children throughout the world. We look forward to the outcomes of the center's work in the years ahead, and the positive impact on health care delivery for children."

His Excellency Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States, said, "We know illness and disease know no boundaries or borders. Medical advances require cooperation, partnership, resources, and determination. This new institute will bring together the best minds in the field of pediatric surgery, pain management, and medical research all with a singular focus to initiate breakthroughs and find solutions."

Richard D. Snowdon, chairman of the Board of Directors of Children's National, said, "What's going to happen at this Institute in surgery could be replicated in all the medical disciplines. This Institute has the potential to fundamentally change pediatric medicine throughout the world."

Pam King Sams, executive vice president for development at Children's National, commented on the historic nature of the gift. "Just as gifts from visionary philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates and Michael Bloomberg have fueled monumental advances in medicine and public health, this historic gift from the Government of Abu Dhabi will fuel incredible advances in pediatric surgery."

Philanthropist Joseph E. Robert, Jr. spoke as both a parent of a Children's National patient and as a longtime supporter. Robert helped fund the existing surgical center at Children's National (the Joseph E. Robert Center for Surgical Care) and is the founder and chairman of Fight For Children, a Washington-based organization that has supported the medical center's research and care.

Robert's son Joe III underwent a nine-and-a-half-hour-long surgery at Children's National 10 years ago (and went on to serve in the Marines). Robert said, "He was released a week later, but it was traumatic not just for him, but also for his mother and me. The institute is going to dramatically reduce the trauma that children and their parents are going to have to experience. It's going to change all that fear and anxiety and improve children's lives before, during, and after surgery."

The gift was made in honor of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the United Arab Emirates and president from 1971 until his death in 2004. In addition to creating the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, the medical center will also name its primary campus in downtown Washington the Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Pediatric Medicine at Children's National Medical Center.

Children's National is also working toward a partnership with Al Qudra Holdings to build and operate a pediatric hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Emily Dammeyer at edammeye (at) cnmc (dot) org or (202) 476-4500
Stacy Williams at stwillia (at) cnmc (dot) org or (301) 565-8500

About Children's National Medical Center:
Children's National Medical Center, located in Washington, DC, is a proven leader in the development of innovative new treatments for childhood illness and injury. Children's has been serving the nation's children for more than 135 years. Children's National is ranked among the best pediatric hospitals in America by US News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group. For more information, visit Children's Research Institute, the academic arm of Children's National Medical Center, encompasses the translational, clinical, and community research efforts of the institution. Learn more about our research programs at


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