Children’s National Hospital, Virginia Tech announce partnership for new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus


  • newswise-fullscreen Children’s National Hospital, Virginia Tech announce partnership for new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus

    Credit: Children’s National

    Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus rendering

Newswise — Children’s National Hospital and Virginia Tech announce a formal partnership that will include the construction of a 12,000-square foot Virginia Tech biomedical research facility within the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus.

The campus is an expansion of Children’s National that is located on a nearly 12-acre portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and is set to open its first phase in December 2020.

The new collaboration brings together Virginia Tech, a top-tier academic research institution, with Children’s National, a U.S. News & World Report top 10 children’s hospital, on what will be the nation’s first innovation campus focused on pediatric research.  

“Virginia Tech is an ideal partner to help us deliver on what we promised for the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus – an ecosystem that enables us to accelerate the translation of potential breakthrough discoveries into new treatments and technologies,” said Kurt Newman, president and CEO of Children’s National. “Our clinical expertise combined with Virginia Tech’s leadership in engineering and technology, and its growing emphasis on biomedical research, will be a significant advance in developing much needed treatment and cures to save children’s lives.” 

Earlier this year, Children’s National announced a collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC to launch JLABS @ Washington, DC at the Research & Innovation Campus. This site will be open to pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer, and health technology companies that are aiming to advance the development of new drugs, medical devices, precision diagnostics, and health technologies, including applications in pediatrics. 

“We are proud to welcome Virginia Tech to our historic Walter Reed campus – a campus that is shaping up to host some of the top minds, talent, and innovation incubators in the world,” said Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser. “The new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus will exemplify why D.C. is the capital of inclusive innovation – because we are a city committed to building the public and private partnerships necessary to drive discoveries, create jobs, promote economic growth, and keep D.C. at the forefront of innovation and change.”

Faculty from the Children’s National Research Institute and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion (VTC) have worked together for more than a decade, already resulting in shared research grants, collaborative publications, and shared intellectual property.

Together, the two institutions will now expand their collaborations to develop new drugs, medical devices, software applications, and other novel treatments for cancer, rare diseases and other disorders. 

“Joining with Children’s National in the nation’s capital positions Virginia Tech to improve the health and well-being of infants and children around the world,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “This partnership resonates with our land-grant mission to solve big problems and create new opportunities in Virginia and D.C. through education, technology, and research.”

The partnership with Children’s National adds to Virginia Tech’s growing footprint in the Washington, D.C., region, which includes plans for a new graduate campus in Alexandria with a human-centered approach to technological innovation. Sands said the proximity of the two locations – just across the Potomac – will enable researchers to leverage resources and will also create opportunities with the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke.

Carilion Clinic and Children’s National have an existing collaboration for provision of certain specialized pediatric clinical services. The more formalized partnership between Virginia Tech and Children’s National will drive the already strong Virginia Tech Carilion partnership, particularly for children’s health initiatives and facilitate collaborations among all three institutions in the pediatric research and clinical service domains.  

Children’s National and Virginia Tech will engage in joint faculty recruiting, joint intellectual property, joint training of students and fellows, and collaborative research projects and programs, according to Michael Friedlander, Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology, and executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

“The expansion and formalization of our partnership with Children’s National is extremely timely and vital for pediatric research innovation and for translating these innovations into practice to prevent, treat and ultimately cure nervous system cancer in children,” said Friedlander, who has collaborated with Children’s National leaders and researchers for more than 20 years. “Both Virginia Tech and Children’s National have similar values and cultures with a firm commitment to discovery and innovation in the service of society. 

“Brain and other nervous system cancers are among the most common cancer in children, alongside leukemia,” Friedlander said. “With our strength in neurobiology, including adult brain cancer research in both humans and companion animals at Virginia Tech, and the strength of Children’s National research in pediatric cancer, developmental neuroscience, and intellectual disabilities, this is a perfect match.” 

The design of the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus not only makes it conducive for the hospital to strengthen its prestigious partnerships with Virginia Tech and Johnson & Johnson, it also fosters synergies with federal agencies like the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which will collaborate with JLABS @ Washington, D.C., to establish a specialized innovation zone to develop responses to health security threats. As more partners sign on, this convergence of key public and private institutions will accelerate discoveries and bring them to market faster for the benefit of children and adults. 

“Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus pairs an inspirational mission to find new treatments for childhood illness and disease with the ideal environment for early stage companies. I am confident the campus will be a magnet for big ideas and will be an economic boost for Washington DC and the region,” says Jeff Zients, who was appointed chair of the Children’s National Board of Directors effective Oct. 1, 2019.

As a CEO and the former director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, Zients says, “When you bring together business, academia, health care and government, in the right setting, you create a hotbed for innovation.”

Ranked seventh in National Institutes of Health research funding among pediatric hospitals, Children’s National continues to foster collaborations as it prepares to open the first 158,000-square-foot phase of its Research & Innovation Campus. These key partnerships will enable the hospital to fulfill its mission of keeping children top of mind for health care innovation and research while also contributing to Washington, D.C.’s, thriving innovation economy. 

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