Newswise — July 14, 2020 Nutley, NJ – The Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) has struck a research collaboration with Merck to investigate drugs for treating COVID-19. 

The CDI will work with Merck to identify candidate treatments for the still-spreading pandemic. 

“The CDI was started less than a year ago to provide dynamic research and clinical impact at an accelerated pace – and they have absolutely proven to be valuable in the COVID-19 response,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are proud they have partnered with Merck, one of the global pharmaceutical leaders.” 

“As envisioned, CDI was established to deliver science insights in ‘real-time,’ to address critical unmet medical needs – there are none bigger than COVID-19,” said David S. Perlin, Ph.D., the chief scientific officer and senior vice president of the CDI. “We’re delighted to work with Merck to amplify our reach and accelerate potential product development.  This collaboration furthers a longstanding research relationship with many of our key investigators.”

“Collaborations such as this are critical to the development of much needed therapeutic options,” Daria Hazuda, vice president of Infectious Diseases and Vaccines Discovery at Merck Research Laboratories and chief scientific officer of the Merck Exploratory Science Center. “We are happy to be expanding our relationship with the scientists at Hackensack Meridian Health.” 

Currently there is no approved vaccine nor broadly effective antiviral treatment for human and animal coronavirus. Thus, identifying effective drug treatment options as soon as possible is critical for the COVID-19 response. 

This collaboration effort to rapidly discover new treatments for COVID-19 grows out of the CDI’s NIH Center of Excellence in Translational Research (CETR), helmed by Perlin, to discover novel antibiotics against high-threat pathogens. The CDI is pursuing further funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support this work. 

Finally, the current collaboration leverages CDI’s expertise in academic drug discovery and evaluation of viral pathogens under biosafety-level 3 conditions, and Merck’s long-standing excellence as a global leader in the discovery and development of anti-infectives against the world’s most important diseases.



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 – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals - JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.

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 more than 34,100 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 being named to Becker's Healthcare's "150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019" list.

The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 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.

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About the Center for Discovery and Innovation 

The Center for Discovery and Innovation, a newly established member of Hackensack Meridian Health, seeks to translate current innovations in science to improve clinical outcomes for patients with cancer, infectious diseases and other life-threatening and disabling conditions. The CDI, housed in a fully renovated state-of-the-art facility, offers world-class researchers a support infrastructure and culture of discovery that promotes science innovation and rapid translation to the clinic.

For additional information, please visit