We’re giving researchers what they need to improve the health of kids.
Our state-of-the-art bench research facility dedicated solely to pediatrics is a highlight of Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
“Many pediatric research institutes are floors or wings of buildings cobbled onto something else, often a hospital or a research center focused on adults,” explains principal investigator Dr. Arnie Smith, who spearheaded the development of TOBI, the aerosol antibiotic inhalation powder that improves lung function in cystic fibrosis patients. “In this building alone, we have six floors of researchers and support staff who care about kids and are dedicated to finding cures for childhood diseases.”
Investing in pediatric research
Seattle Children’s acquired two adjacent city blocks in downtown Seattle in 2006 and 2007 to establish its research campus. Currently, more than 500 investigators and staff conduct research in 275,000 square feet of laboratory and associated support space.
Future plans include expanding to up to 2 million square feet of research space — every foot of it dedicated to finding innovative ways to treat and prevent conditions that negatively impact the health and well-being of children and teens.
“We are committed to developing the most advanced space so our research teams have the facilities and sophisticated technical resources they need to find solutions to some of the most daunting challenges in pediatric medicine,” says Jim Hendricks, PhD, president of the research institute.
“It’s clear Seattle Children’s has made a significant investment in technology to study the brain,” says John Welsh, PhD, who recently joined the research institute as a principal investigator in the Center for Integrative Brain Research. “Our team has all the latest tools we need, including cellular imaging so we can actually see brain circuits in action.”
Collaborative by design
The building’s design features an “open lab” format to foster a rich collaborative environment where investigators draw upon different disciplines to fuel the discovery of new cures for childhood diseases. The institute’s nine interdisciplinary centers reflect core areas central to pediatric health — including Developmental Therapeutics; Child Health, Behavior and Development; and Immunity and Immunotherapies.
“I’ve never seen such a large, open lab format in an academic setting,” says Mark Majesky, PhD, a leader in cardiac stem cell research who recently joined the Center for Tissue and Cell Sciences. “The benches encourage interaction and sharing. Without good collaboration across teams, researchers do not take optimal advantage of their environment. It helps to discuss ideas and possible solutions.”
To help move research from the bench to the bedside as quickly as possible, the Center for Clinical and Translational Research is integrated onto every floor of the institute — a structure that’s unique among research centers. This arrangement fosters collaboration between lab and clinical researchers, facilitating the timely transfer of discoveries from bench to bedside.
The institute also features a centralized administrative staff that helps investigators in all nine interdisciplinary centers manage each phase of research from grant application and compliance through contract and budget management. The staff provides operational, financial, managerial, human resources, compliance and training support.
Location, location, location
Our research institute is located in the heart of Seattle’s biomedical community and conveniently situated near our closest partners — the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Other neighbors — and collaborators — include Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Benaroya Research Institute, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH, the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute, Seattle Biomed and Virginia Mason Medical Center.
The institute’s downtown Seattle location is an easy commute. It’s near our research partners, and there are lots of great amenities close by — retail, restaurants, entertainment and spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.
A supportive business community
The central location is also great for fostering interest in our work and garnering support. Nearly 100 business leaders recently turned out after work to hear six of Children’s top researchers talk about their work. Jan “Nino” Ramirez, PhD, spoke on the promise of integrated brain research, and Dr. Dimitri Christakis discussed media and its effects on children and teens.
“Seattle is a technologically driven economy, and our business community is clearly interested in supporting innovations in pediatric medicine,” says Hendricks.