December 29, 2020 Hackensack, NJ – Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network which has treated more COVID-19 patients than any other health system in the state, is now enrolling individuals in the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson’s Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial. 

The Phase 3 international, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled ENSEMBLE 2 trial run by Johnson and Johnson is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a two-dose regimen of Janssen’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate versus placebo in up to 30,000 adults 18 years old and older. The trial will include those both with and without comorbidities associated with an increased risk for severe COVID-19. 

“We are proud to be at the forefront of history in creating safe and effective vaccines during this unprecedented global pandemic,’’ said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This is another example of Hackensack Meridian Health’s commitment to transforming health care in New Jersey and beyond.’’ 

“Vaccines are one of the major pathways to victory over COVID-19,” said Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., FACS, president of Hackensack Meridian Health's Northern Market, and the chief research officer of the network. “Our health network is among those at the forefront of this fight.”  

The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate leverages the Company’s AdVac® technology platform, which was also used to develop and manufacture Janssen’s European Commission approved Ebola vaccine and construct its Zika, RSV, and HIV investigational vaccine candidates. Janssen’s AdVac® technology platform has been used to vaccinate more than 150,000 individuals to date in clinical studies across Janssen’s investigational vaccine programs. 

This ENSEMBLE 2 trial involves a two-dose regimen, administered on day 1 and day 57 of participation. Half of the volunteers will be administered the vaccine, with the other half administered placebo. The total study duration is more than two years. 

The two-dose ENSEMBLE 2 study will run in parallel to and separate from the ongoing Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial, which is now fully enrolled with approximately 45,000 participants across three continents and evaluating a single-dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Conducting the ENSEMBLE and ENSEMBLE 2 trials in parallel will provide valuable insights into the dosing schedules and help determine a path forward in both the short term and the long term to potentially help end the fast-moving COVID-19 pandemic.  

Hackensack Meridian Health investigators will enroll up to 300 of adults over 18 years of age from the New Jersey area.   

“As the leading academic medical center in Monmouth and Ocean counties, Jersey Shore’s research team is well-suited to conduct this important medical research, which is crucial as we battle COVID-19,” said Kenneth N. Sable, M.D., MBA, FACEP, regional president, Hackensack Meridian Health, Southern Market. 

Built on a legacy of purpose-driven actions and a commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Company aims to achieve representation of ethnically diverse populations and those that are over the age 60 in the implementation of its COVID-19 Phase 3 clinical trial program. For more information on why diversity in clinical trials is vital to the process, visit   

“We’re glad to play a part in this critical work,” said Ed Liu, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, and the study site’s principal investigator. “Since COVID-19 arrived, we have continually improved our ways to treat those affected by the virus, but having vaccine options could help us get past this pandemic.” 

For more information about the trial, those interested can contact (551) 996-5977 or visit



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 36,000 team members, and 7,000 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 of its hospitals are among the top hospitals in New Jersey for 2020-21, according to U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, the health system has more top-ranked hospitals than any system in New Jersey. Children’s Health is again ranked a top provider of pediatric health care in the United States and earned top 50 rankings in the annual U.S. News’ 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals 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. The Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), housed in a fully renovated state-of-the-art facility, seeks to translate current innovations in science to improve clinical outcomes for patients with cancer, infectious diseases and other life-threatening and disabling conditions. 

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.  


To learn more, visit