Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health Programs at the CDI: A Note from Dr. Perlin

The CDI is committed to the real-time application of translational science to impact patients with infectious diseases. Currently, 10 principal investigators and more than 85 scientists and support staff are pursuing studies of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens with an emphasis on detecting, combatting and preventing opportunistic infections among patients with underlying predisposing conditions due to cancer, HIV, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and other acute or chronic conditions.

Programs include studies of novel drug discovery, lead compound optimization and preclinical development; drug optimization for therapy; vaccine development; drug resistance mechanisms; prophylaxis and prevention; molecular diagnostic and biomarker development; molecular epidemiology; viral evolution, T cell responses and clinical trials. Prominent pathogens include multidrug resistant: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, non-tuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM), Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii, Neisseria gonorrhea; Candida spp., Aspergillus fumigatus; SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and other highly pathogenic viruses.

These programs are supported by 26 NIH awards, as well as the Gates Foundation, contributing in excess of $20 million a year in funds. To support the numerous studies of high-threat pathogens, the CDI operates ~2,000 NSF of biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory space and another ~3,000 NFS of dedicated animal BSL-3 support space. The BSL-3 animal model team is highly experienced logging >3 million animal days of BSL-3 pathogens in the past decade. Specialty resources include a dedicated mass spectrometry suite with four LC/MS mass spectrometers, two Thermo Maldi Orbitraps, and a Bruker Solarix SR MALDI mass spectrometry imager.

Also of note:

  • The CDI hosts a $33 million NIH Center of Excellence in Translational Research (CETR) which is focused on developing therapeutic countermeasures to overcome high-threat bacterial and viral pathogens.
  • During COVID-19, the CDI established the first FDA EUA-approved RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 for a healthcare system (March 2020); they helped establish a highly successful high-titer convalescent plasma therapy program that was optimized for neutralizing antibodies (April 2020) and profiled by 60 Minutes; they sequenced >4,000 viruses and created a high throughput system for analysis of virus variants of concern; and they are actively engaged in developing next generation anti-SARS-CoV-2 drug candidates with Pharma and Biotech partners.
  • Global partnerships including those in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Africa, Israel, Singapore, China, Brazil, and Columbia prominently address studies of multidrug resistant organisms including M.tb, Candida auris, Aspergillus fumigatus and Klebsiella pneumonia.
  • CDI maintains strategic collaborations for infectious diseases with numerous companies, organizations and public health groups including CDC, WHO, TB Alliance, B&M Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, UK Medical Research Foundation, New York Genome Center, Merck, Pfizer, Regeneron, Gilead, Cellularity, Quest, BioMerieux, T2 Diagnostics, and numerous other biotech companies.