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CDI Director Perlin Named to Modern Healthcare’s Class of Top 25 Innovators

August 24, 2021 GMT

NUTLEY, N.J., Aug. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Hackensack Meridian Health is proud to announce that David S. Perlin, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and senior vice president of the Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), has been recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of this year’s Top 25 Innovators.

The complete ranking is featured in the August 16 issue of MH magazine, and profiles of the honorees are available at

The nomination of Perlin focused on the CDI’s achievements during the COVID-19 era, which included testing, tracking, and therapeutic breakthroughs to benefit patients across Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network.


“Dr. David Perlin and the CDI have been a crucial resource for our health network during the pandemic,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “Dr. Perlin’s clear-eyed vision, and his experience with previous infectious disease outbreaks, has saved lives. This latest award is just further validation of his leadership.”

“This award is a great honor,” said Dr. Perlin. “The CDI aims to improve lives through real-time application of science, and I believe this distinction shows that our whole team here is making that difference, by responding to unmet needs.”

The award nomination focused on the CDI’s COVID-19 response, which played a critical role by impacting clinical care through development of novel diagnostics, improved antiviral therapy, and support of numerous clinical trial regimens.

The achievements include:


  • A viral diagnostic test for COVID-19, developed and implemented by scientists from the CDI in the first weeks of the pandemic, which served to provide testing at a critical time when New Jersey hospitals were waiting up to 10 days for a diagnostic result.
  • A high-throughput test that can detect multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in two-and-a-half hours, a major advance in tracking the virus and in treating patients. The test can detect the known variants – most recently the prevalent Delta variant, as well as the other known mutations, including the UK, Brazil, and South African variants.
  • Pharmaceutical, biotech companies and academic discovery groups have partnered with CDI to develop new drug candidates against COVID-19, and other coronaviruses. Utilizing a SARS-CoV-2 viral pathogenic screening assay that mimics viral infection of host cells in our Biosafety Level 3 lab suite, a team has evaluated hundreds of compounds representing approved drugs, drug candidates in late-stage clinical development as antivirals, as well as new chemical classes.
  • The convalescent plasma program at Hackensack University Medical Center focused on high-titers (levels) of antibodies, coupled with early intervention, to mitigate the disease. The published results of the early intervention led to an outpatient program at Hackensack University Medical Center, supported by a Department of Defense grant. The $5.5 million funding allows the researchers at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center and the CDI to continue clinical testing for patients within the first 96 hours of symptoms, with the aim to prevent hospitalization.

CDI scientists are also studying the biology of the virus, host factors that impact disease progression, and discovery and development of novel drug candidates.

“Dr. Perlin and his colleagues at the CDI have brought a new dimension of science to our research programs at Hackensack Meridian Health,” said Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., FACS, the chief research officer and president of the Northern Region of Hackensack Meridian Health. “The future for our patients is bright.”

Dr. Perlin joined the Center for Discovery and Innovation in January 2019. In May 2020, he received a $33.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop new antibiotics to overcome deadly bacteria in hospitals that have become resistant to current treatments.

One of Perlin’s chief areas of expertise is drug resistant fungal pathogens, which includes Candida auris, a deadly fungal infection that is currently one of the most high-profile emerging threats in health care. Dr. Perlin and his colleagues developed one of the first comprehensive rapid diagnostic test for this pathogen and helped elucidate the principal mechanisms of drug resistance. His group has worked closely with the CDC on this epidemic in New York and New Jersey, and other global health departments.

Over a period of about 30 years, Dr. Perlin has been at the forefront of scientific research into combatting high-threat bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens. He helped develop a number of novel therapeutics and diagnostics, some of which are now commercial products. He also developed a wide range of domestic and global programs addressing both hospital- and community-associated drug resistance. His team of researchers has developed molecular diagnostic products for the CDC and local hospitals for multidrug resistant outbreak pathogens including drug-resistance determinants. He has worked with numerous device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, as well as with the FDA and EMA. He also serves as an advisory board member to numerous pharmaceutical, biotech and diagnostic companies for development of novel therapeutics and diagnostics targeting drug-resistant pathogens.

Prior to joining the Center for Discovery and Innovation, Dr. Perlin spent nearly 20 years as executive director of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Public Health Research Institute (PHRI), an 80-year-old specialized center for global infectious diseases. He was also director of the Rutgers Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL), one of 13 NIH-designated national centers for high-threat pathogen research, and was also a professor of microbiology, biochemistry and molecular genetics at the school. At PHRI, he oversaw programs to address multidrug resistant bacterial and fungal pathogens, both locally and abroad. He has published more than 300 papers and book chapters and co-authored two books. Dr. Perlin’s awards include being named a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

This year’s Top 25 Innovators for Modern Healthcare championed solutions to reshape the industry in big and small ways, pushing boundaries to help solve healthcare’s greatest challenges.

“There’s never been a more urgent time for the industry to experiment with innovations that can reshape how care is delivered. The members of this year’s class of Top 25 Innovators have introduced ideas that engage consumers in new ways, lower healthcare costs and take unique approaches to managing population health. The honorees were selected for their work in one of four areas: consumerism, cost reduction, population health and quality/safety. They were selected from nearly 200 nominations. We congratulate this class of honorees and look forward to following their careers,” said Aurora Aguilar, editor of Modern Healthcare.

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 Johnson 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 center, 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 more top-ranked hospitals than anyone in New Jersey, as recognized by U.S. News & World Report. Hackensack University Medical Center is the only hospital in New Jersey with the #1 adult and children’s hospital rankings.

John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center is New Jersey’s best cancer center, as recognized by U.S. News & World Report. This premier cancer center is also the largest and most comprehensive center dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, management, research, screenings, and preventive care as well as survivorship of patients with all types of cancers. John Theurer Cancer Center is part of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, an NCI designated comprehensive cancer center.

Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to ensure that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.

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 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.

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

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

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SOURCE Hackensack Meridian Health