A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held yesterday for the Center for Discovery & Innovation (CDI) at Hackensack Meridian Health‘s Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus in Nutley and Clifton, with CDI described as “an academic-based entrepreneurial center that rapidly harnesses innovations arising from a new renaissance in biomedical sciences to restore patient health.”
CDI is within the 116-acre Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian Health Sciences Campus less than 10 miles west of Manhattan on the former grounds of pharmaceutical powerhouse Roche Laboratories. The broader campus includes, in part, a medical school, and biopharma/biotech companies – and now, CDI.
While employees have occupied the brand new CDI building since January, warmer weather paved the way for Hackensack Meridian Health’s leaders, Governor Murphy – and others – to speak about CDI’s significance and prowess.
Sol J. Barer, Ph.D., chair of CDI’s board of directors, said, “Our objectives are clearly multi-fold: Of highest priority is the creation of new medicines for people in New Jersey, the US, and globally. This transcends everything and is embodied in the culture of CDI.”
Separately, Hackensack Meridian Health’s CEO Robert C. Garett told the audience that CDI last week received $33 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “to develop new antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections.”
CDI’s board includes a nobel laureate and senior accomplished/renowned individuals from such companies as Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Celgene.
Barer himself founded Celgene, and is considered among the world’s top scientists, with the trade association BioNJ – an advocate for the more than 400 biotechnology companies in New Jersey – years ago having named an annual award for him.
CDI’s opening not only arguably showcases the ongoing repurposing of biopharmaceutical giant’s Roche’s former grounds, but also occurs at a unique point in scientific history, in which supercomputers, data analytics, global connectivity and other advances have yielded a vast, exponentially growing comprehension of human health that arguably dwarfs previous decades’ achievements.
CDI is comprised of three distinct institutes, including the Institute for Cancer and Infectious Diseases (iCID), which is “dedicated to understanding fundamental biological insights of cancer cells and opportunities pathogens (bacterial, viral and fungal), causing infection in immunological patients, to applying these insights to overcome these diseases through innovative strategies for detection, prevention and therapeutic intervention.”
The other two institutes are focused on multiple myeloma and, separately, regenerative medicine.
Gov. Murphy said, “What is so extraordinary about this center (CDI) … is its singular purpose of bringing together the greatest minds in science and medicine, to make significant breakthroughs in cancer, infectious diseases, and regenerative medicine. The individuals who will work in this state-of-the-art facility are the people who can see their way through the data, all the way to a cure.”
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