Hackensack Meridian Health Receives $33.3 Million NIH Grant to Develop Antibiotics to Treat Drug-Resistant Infections

May 10, 2019

Record grant for Center for Discovery and Innovation will support new treatments to overcome deadly bacteria in hospitals

Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network, is pleased to announce that the National Institutes of Health has awarded David S. Perlin, Ph.D. and chief scientific officer of the network’s Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) a $33.3million grant to develop new antibiotics to overcome deadly bacteria in hospitals that have become resistant to current treatments.

“We are proud to receive this record grant which will produce new therapies to tackle drug-resistant infections and save lives,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This is exactly why we created our new Center for Discovery and Innovation – to deliver tomorrow’s breakthroughs today.”

With a five-year, $33.3 million grant, Dr. Perlin will establish a Center of Excellence for Translational Research, 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,” said Dr. Perlin, an internationally recognized research scientist in infectious disease. “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.”

More than 2 million people are sickened every year in the U.S. with antibiotic-resistant infections, resulting in at least 23,000 deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Infection.

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.

“This grant reflects the core mission of the CDI to rapidly translate scientific innovations to address critical unmet clinical needs,” said Andrew Pecora, M.D. chief innovation officer at Hackensack Meridian Health.

The new center, located at the campus of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University in Clifton and Nutley, is comprised of three areas of research: cancer and infectious disease; multiple myeloma and regenerative medicine.

Dr. Perlin is a highly-accomplished researcher and administrator and has played a major role in advancing the national research agenda to overcome drug resistant infections. Dr. Perlin’s primary expertise is in drug discovery, mechanisms of antifungal drug resistance and rapid diagnosis of drug resistant bacterial and fungal pathogens in cancer, transplant and other high-risk patients. He has published more than 250 papers and book chapters and co-authored two-books.

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