Hackensack Meridian CDI, Merck to collaborate on COVID research

NUTLEY, NJ — The Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation in Nutley has struck a research collaboration with Merck to investigate drugs for treating COVID-19, according to a July press release. 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,” Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert Garrett said. “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 Perlin, 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,” said 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, helmed by Perlin, to discover novel antibiotics against high-threat pathogens. The CDI is pursuing further funding from the National Institutes of Health 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 longstanding excellence as a global leader in the discovery and development of anti-infectives against the world’s most important diseases.