Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation

Sheikh Zayed Institute for Surgical Innovation at Children's National aims to improve surgery and eliminate pain. Made possible by a $150 million gift from the government of Abu Dhabi in 2009, the institute focuses 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.

The gift was the largest ever for pediatric surgery. It 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 primary campus in downtown Washington, DC, was renamed the Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Pediatric Medicine at Children’s National Health System. 

This unique space is the intersection of physicians, researchers, and engineers coming together to make pediatric surgery less invasive, more precise and pain free. The ultimate hub of collaboration at Children’s National, the Sheikh Zayed Institute focuses on the innovative improvement of existing pediatric practices, tools, and techniques. 

With the four initiatives - Pain Medicine, Bioengineering, Immunology/Systems Biology, and Education - the program highlights include:

  • Multi-Sensory Room (MSR) – physical therapists use video games to comfort the patient, while simultaneously measuring treatment progress through Kinect technology.
  • POD Bed – designed by Alberto Frias (”Men in Black 3” set designer), this interactive bed monitors heart rate, soothes patients with lights and music, and measures their response to therapies treating pain-related anxiety.
  • 3D Printing – this printer produces replicas of patients’ organs, using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computerized tomography) scans to copy. These printouts allow doctors and surgeons to study and practice suturing an exact model of the organ, before they operate.
  • Smart Tissue Anastomosis Robot (STAR) – STAR incorporates and simplifies current techniques through new visual modality that allows tracking of mobile tissue targets – which couldn’t be done before. The tool also allows for real time collaborative decision making between the surgeon and the tool.