Hackensack Meridian Health Opens Center for Discovery and Innovation to Support Groundbreaking Research

May 30, 2019

New center will focus on research for cancer, infectious disease and regenerative medicine and create hundreds of scientific jobs in North Jersey

Hackensack Meridian Health is proud to announce the opening of the Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), a state-of-the art facility which will offer world renowned researchers the support to develop novel therapies for some of the world’s most difficult diseases – cancer, diabetes, dementia, antibiotic-resistant infection and auto-immune disorders.

The new center, located next to the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, will bring together top researchers and offer streamlined systems to accelerate the timeline from discovery to treatment at the bedside.

“This is about improving outcomes for patients by streamlining the process to develop major breakthroughs and bringing together the greatest minds in science and medicine,’’ said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.  

The Center will be organized around three specialty areas:

  • Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where revolutionary therapies will help diseased and damaged tissue heal itself
  • Institute for Cancer and Infectious Disease, where new ways to treat life-threatening infections and cancer at the molecular level are being developed
  • Institute for Multiple Myeloma, which will build on the network’s program, one of the world’s largest with more than 2,000 patients on active therapy

“This new center will transform the treatment of patients by integrating our extensive clinical expertise and research contributions with ongoing basic and translational research,’’ said Andrew Pecora, M.D., chief executive officer, Outcomes Matter Innovations, LLC.

The 250,000-square-foot research facility located at the On3 campus, former home to Hoffmann-LaRoche, in Nutley and Clifton, NJ, has already attracted renowned researchers.

One of the key researchers is David S. Perlin, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and senior vice president, CDI. Dr. Perlin is the former director of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Public Health Research Institute and former director of the Rutgers Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, one of 13 NIH-designated national centers for pathogen research. The NIH has continuously funded him for 30 years, and he was most recently awarded a $33.3 million NIH grant to establish a Center of Excellence in Translational Research.

David S. Siegel, M.D., Ph.D., founding director of the center’s Institute for Multiple Myeloma, is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the rare blood cancer. He served as the lead investigator of the pivotal phase IIb study involving 30 cancer centers in North America, including Hackensack University Medical Center’s John Theurer Cancer Center, that led to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s fast-track approval of Kyprolis (carfilzomib) for recurrent multiple myeloma. He is also one of 11 investigators nationwide who brought Velcade (bortezomib) to multiple myeloma patients through his clinical trials showing this medication halts the progression of the disease.

Sol J. Barer, Ph.D., the founder of Celgene and chair of the Board of Directors of Teva Pharmaceuticals, will serve as founding chair of the CDI Board of Trustees.

“This center creates an exceptional environment for research, one that brings together the best minds and sets them free to develop new therapies to improve patient outcomes,’’ Dr. Barer said. “The CDI will transform biomedical research and translational science by leveraging the remarkable power of the human cell.”

Funding sources will include the government – grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, for example – individual and corporate philanthropy, venture philanthropy and venture capital.

Hackensack University Medical Center’s John Theurer Cancer Center has been the home to much of the network’s cancer research and has built one of the world’s largest multiple myeloma programs. The Multiple Myeloma Division has developed relationships that have brought advanced immunotherapies to patients.

Additionally, the National Cancer Institute approved the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center as a member of the NCI-Designated Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Consortium.

Hackensack Meridian Health has formed a partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to create an exceptional uniform standard of care throughout the network’s acute care hospitals and expansive outpatient network.

The center will also serve as a research hub for students at the new medical school on the campus.