The Sheikh Zayed Institute (SZI) focuses on four key areas as it breaks new ground in research to improve care for all children.

Collaborative Connections

Sheikh Zayed Institute has a wealth of collaborative initiatives and programs designed to improve care for children. Its Annual Symposium on Pediatric Surgical Innovation brings together leaders and advocates of pediatric surgical and device innovation to form consensus and achievable tasks to accomplish its mission. Its targeted areas of care, from fetal and translational medicine, to heart, and blood transplantation, and its links with academic institutions and universities enable it to achieve its goals.

Collaborative Connections


On March 4, 2014, the Sheikh Zayed Institute’s faculty and staff visited Capitol Hill and held an all-day event highlighting the latest in pediatric surgical innovation at the Rayburn House Office Building of United States House of Representatives. Members of the Congress and visitors were invited to stop by the Institute’s stations.

American University Kogod School of Business

The Sheikh Zayed Institute collaborated with full-time MBA students from American University Kogod School of Business and students from the International Design Business Management (IDBM) program at Finland’s Aalto University to develop the concept and prototype for a medical device to collect data from the pupil and send diagnostic information to a smartphone.

Cardiology & Children’s National Heart Institute

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect. About one percent of newborns are born with a heart condition. The Heart Institute at Children’s National assesses and/or treats thousands of babies, children and young adults each year. The Heart Institute includes a robust cardiac fetal imaging program with specialized care for newborns diagnosed in utero. Identifying and repairing heart defects in children or infants requires overcoming unique challenges, such as working on a smaller and more delicate heart, the difficulty in having children lie still or hold their breath for imaging procedures. There also is increased sensitivity to radiation damage from X-rays, and the need for devices like incubators.

DC I-Corps

Sheikh Zayed Institute entrepreneurs have been accepted into the I-Corps program and benefited from a curriculum taught by successful technology entrepreneurs. Each participating team talked to a minimum of one hundred customers, partners, competitors and other market stakeholders.

Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Catherine M. Bollard, M.D., Russell Cruz, M.D., Ph.D., and Patrick Hanley, Ph.D., are part of the Immunology team at the Sheikh Zayed Institute. Dr. Bollard is a senior scientist and a member of the Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and co-directs the Immunology Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.

Entrepreneurs In Residence

The gap between innovations and commercially viable technologies that enter the market is not an unfamiliar concept. The Sheikh Zayed Institute, in consultation with its Business Advisory Council, partially attributed this gap to the absence of resources such as resident entrepreneurs.

FDA Pediatric Device Consortia Program

Funded through the FDA’s Pediatric Device Consortia Grant Program in 2013, the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI) is a partnership of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Hospital and the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. 

Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute

The Sheikh Zayed Institute’s investigators collaborate with the Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute, one of the largest neurofibromatosis programs in the world that leads in the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of children and adults with all the conditions that relate to this disorder.

Oncology, Hematology & Solid Tumor Program

A collaboration of the Sheikh Zayed Institute and the Oncology group at Children’s National, the Image-Guided Non-Invasive Therapeutic Energy (IGNITE) program aims to improve the quality of life and outcomes for pediatric patients through the development and clinical introduction of novel minimally invasive and noninvasive surgery technologies and combination therapy approaches.


Brian Reilly, M.D., of Otolaryngology is working with the Institute's engineers to develop an ear tube made of a biocompatible material that can retain its form and function in physiological conditions and quickly dissolve on contact with uniquely formulated ear drops. This new approach will reduce follow up surgeries for removing ear tubes.

Prenatal and Transitional Medicine

Adré J. du Plessis, M.B.Ch.B., M.D., Chief of Prenatal and Transitional Pediatrics at Children’s National, joined the Sheikh Zayed Institute to develop non-invasive continuous neuromonitoring techniques and validate novel biomarkers of imminent brain injury.

Rare Disease Institute

Down syndrome, the most common single cause of human birth defects, produces alterations in physical growth and intellectual disabilities. If missed before birth, the early detection of Down syndrome is crucial for the management of patients and disease.

Small Businesses

In collaboration with its small business partners, the Sheikh Zayed Institute was the recipient of the following three SBIR/STTR Phase I funding grants from the NIH National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the NIH National Cancer Institute. The awardees included investigators Zenaide Quezado, M.D., Marius Linguraru, D.Phil., and Raj Shekhar, Ph.D.


The Sheikh Zayed Institute’s raison d’être is to translate its research and discoveries to patients. As stewards of government and donor funds, the Sheikh Zayed Institute is committed to being responsive to market forces by promoting entrepreneurial efforts of its researchers, clinicians and engineering staff. Spinoff startup companies were formed to commercialize Sheikh Zayed Institute’s inventions that are subject to the intellectual property policies of Children’s National.

The Bear Institute for Health Innovation

The Bear Institute is a first-of-its-kind health information technology institute dedicated to improving clinical pediatric outcomes. It is a collaboration of Children’s National Hospital and Cerner, with the goal of utilizing innovation in electronic health information technology to advance evidence-based pediatric care, research and education.

University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering

The seed funding program to boost collaboration between researchers at the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, established in 2013, led to over 10 joint intellectual property fillings and an impressive number of joint publications and grant submissions.