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

EDISON, N.J., May 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 $33.3 million 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.

ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care.

Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children's hospitals - Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals - Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, and Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood; and two rehabilitation hospitals - JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick; and a behavioral health hospital, Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead.

Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has 33,000 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network's notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and Top 150 Places to Work in Healthcare/2018 by Becker's Healthcare. 

Hackensack Meridian Health partnered with Seton Hall University to launch the only private medical school in New Jersey – Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.  Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

For additional information, please visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org.

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SOURCE Hackensack Meridian Health