Surgical Innovation

Transforming Surgery for Children Around the World

Researchers, surgeons, and engineers seek greater precision, less invasion, and no pain.

The Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National seeks to make pediatric surgery more precise, less invasive, and pain-free. Founded through a $150 million gift from the Government of Abu Dhabi, the institute unites care, education, and research.

The institute has created a strong infrastructure for R&D and a network of experts in venture capital, technology commercialization, and intellectual property. Multi-disciplinary teams – with representatives of both academia and industry – move ideas from conception to marketed products.

The Sheikh Zayed Institute has five initiatives—pain medicine, bioengineering, immunology, systems biology, and education—aimed at revolutionizing surgical care for children.


  • Pain Medicine. This initiative strives to define, measure, and minimize pain as quickly as possible for children. The goal is to both understand the physical and emotional impacts of pain and – for the first time -- objectively quantify those impacts. Gaming equipment and other technology are used to fully engage patients and improve diagnostics and therapy.

  • Bioengineering. The smaller size of child patients puts a premium on delicacy during operations. That effort is augmented by bioengineers working with surgeons to develop quantitative medical imaging, image fusion methodologies, and medical robotics. With the assistance of such equipment, physicians can minimize the invasiveness of their procedures.

  • Immunology. Strengthening a child’s natural defenses – made possible with research and development in immunology – can allow for less-invasive surgery and possibly even cure diseases.

  • Systems Biology. Scientists use gene sequencing to identify the genetic foundations of common childhood diseases. This research leads to predictive, preventive, and personalized surgery. With this advanced understanding, physicians can anticipate afflictions and tailor treatments for individual children.

  • Education. Proven business methodologies for innovation can drive new ways of thinking across disciplines. These fresh perspectives can help physicians, scientists, and engineers transform pediatric surgery for children around the world.