NIH awards $33 million grant to develop new antibiotics

May 14, 2019

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a five-year, $33.3 million grant to develop new antibiotics to treat deadly bacteria that have become resistant to current treatments. The grant was awarded to David S. Perlin, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation in Nutley, N.J.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a five-year, $33.3 million grant to develop new antibiotics to treat deadly bacteria that have become resistant to current treatments. The grant was awarded to David S. Perlin, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation in Nutley, N.J.

Perlin will use the grant to establish a Center for Excellence for Translational Research, a public-private partnership that brings together prominent scientists from Hackensack Meridian as well as other institutions and industry.

“We are embarking on a new era for antimicrobial discovery,” said Perlin, an internationally recognized research scientist in infectious disease, in a statement. “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 reinvigorate the drug pipeline.”

More than two 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 Prevention.

Before the development of antibiotics, infectious diseases were a leading cause of death worldwide, and their introduction in the 1940s changed the fate of millions. Yet, drug resistance rapidly emerged and its steady growth has led to the evolution of strains that are resistant to all known antibiotics.

Perlin has played a major role in advancing the national research agenda to overcome drug resistant infections. His 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.

“This grant reflects the core mission of the Center for Discovery and Innovation to rapidly translate scientific innovations to address critical unmet clinical needs,” said Andrew Pecora, MD, chief innovation officer at Hackensack Meridian Health.

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

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, drug discovery expert at Meridian; Richard Ebright, a biochemist at Rutgers’ Waksman Institute of Microbiology; and Terry Roemer, founder of Prokaryotics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of antibiotics that target multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

Hackensack Meridian Health, based in Edison, N.J., comprises 17 hospitals, including three academic medical centers, and employs 6,500 physicians.