New Hackensack Meridian Health – Center for Discovery and Innovation to receive $33.3 million grant from the NIH to develop a Center of Excellence for antibiotic discovery

NUTLEY, N.J. – May 10, 2019  The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected infectious disease expert David S. Perlin, Ph.D. and Chief Scientific Officer of the new Hackensack Meridian Health-Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) to lead a major research effort aimed at developing novel antibiotics to overcome deadly bacteria in hospitals that have become resistant to current treatments. This grant reflects the core mission of the CDI to rapidly translate scientific innovations to address critical unmet clinical needs.

With a five-year, $33.3 million grant, Perlin will establish a Center of Excellence for Translational Research (CETR), a public-private partnership that brings together prominent scientists from the CDI, as well as other institutions and industry.

We are embarking on a new era for antimicrobial discovery. By bringing together leading researchers from academia and the commercial sector in a highly interactive collaborative partnership, and providing comprehensive resources that support drug discovery, we can overcome many of the barriers that limit antibiotic development, and help to reinvigorate the drug pipeline.                                                                                                                                                — David S. Perlin, Ph.D. Chief Scientific Officer

In the era before antibiotics, infectious diseases were a leading cause of death worldwide and the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s changed the fate of countless millions. Yet, drug resistance emerged rapidly and its steady march has led to the evolution of multidrug resistant (MDR) strains that can be resistant to all known antibiotics. The threat to human health is profound, jeopardizing advances in modern medicine and creating a major health crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two million people are sickened every year in the United States with antibiotic-resistant infections resulting in at least 23,000 deaths. Health experts predict that serious illness with enhanced death tolls will continue to rise without major new drugs.

Senior researchers assembled by Perlin include Sean Brady, a chemical biologist at The Rockefeller University in New York City; David Alland, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Thomas Dick, a drug discovery expert at the CDI; Richard Ebright, a biochemist at Rutgers’ Waksman Institute of Microbiology, and Terry Roemer, founder and CSO of Prokaryotics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel antibiotic classes that target multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

The CDI CETR was conceived as an enterprise-style Center comprised of world-class academic and biopharma investigators with innovative and well-established drug discovery platforms focused on clinically validated and novel targets, promising Leads, and innovative approaches for new compound discovery. The CDI will serve as an engine to develop selected optimized Leads and Preclinical Development Candidates (PDCs) against MDR Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria that pose the greatest threat to patients at high risk for infection.

The overall program will be guided by Perlin, a highly-accomplished researcher, administrator, and current CETR director; a Scientific Advisory Committee consisting of veteran members of the pharmaceutical industry and academics who are well versed in drug development, and a solid operations and management team that is experienced in translational research programs resulting in intellectual property and licensing to develop clinical products. According to Perlin “the NIH/NIAID CETR program engages academic translational science in a meaningful way that strongly advances the national agenda to overcome drug resistant infections, and the CDI is pleased to be at the leading edge.”