Hackensack Meridian Health awarded nearly $1M in grants by New Jersey Health Foundation

22 grants fund range of innovative research and initiatives

Hackensack Meridian Health said it was recently awarded 22 grants totaling nearly $915,202 from Princeton-based New Jersey Health Foundation for important research and community health projects.

The grants support work across the state’s largest and most comprehensive health network, spanning not only the Hackensack Meridian Health Research Institute and clinical and basic research, but also the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and a multitude of sites across the Garden State.

Among the areas supported by the grants: cancer, infectious disease, community health, education, diabetes and rheumatology, among other topics.

“This support is so crucial to all our many promising research projects,” Dr. Ihor Sawczuk, the president of academics, research and innovation for Hackensack Meridian Health, and the founding chair of the Hackensack Meridian Health Research Institute, said. “The New Jersey Health Foundation continues to be an incredible partner for us.”

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the New Jersey Health Foundation for their generous support, fueling critical research and community health initiatives across Hackensack Meridian Health,” Joyce Hendricks, president and chief development officer of Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation, said. “Through the kindness of like-minded organizations, we are empowered to reshape the landscape of health care in New Jersey and create a profound impact that will bring a healthier and brighter future to those we serve in our communities. We are so thankful.”

“NJHF is proud to support the many exciting projects at Hackensack Meridian Health through our annual grant program,” Dr. George Heinrich, vice chair & CEO of New Jersey Health Foundation, said. “We are excited by the promise they bring — and we are eager to see the results and impact in the future.”

Twelve of the 22 grant recipients are also faculty members of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, which boasts experts from across the entire health network. Eight of the grant recipients are on faculty of the Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation.

“The New Jersey Health Foundation, with this exceptional support, is putting a down payment on our collective future,” Dr. Jeffrey Boscamp, the dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, said.

The grants are as follows:

  • Dr. Aseel Al-Jadiri, $16,472, Hackensack University Medical Center: “While You Wait Workshops to Improve Parental Knowledge, Well-Being, and Preparedness for Developmental Adversities in Children”
  • Dr. Faiz Bhora, $50,000, CDI, JFK University Medical Center, HMSOM: “Fabrication of Tissue-Engineered, Personalized Tracheal Grafts”
  • Dr. Anna Broder, $50,000, HUMC, HMSOM: “Early Detection of Proteinuria in Lupus Related Kidney Disease”
  • Neeraj Chauhan, $50,000, CDI: “Skin colonization mechanisms of Candida auris”
  • Huifang Cheng, $35,000, JFKUMC: “Enhancing Diabetic Foot Ulcer Awareness in Underserved Communities”
  • Georgianna Dart, $34,460, JFKUMC: “Transition to home program for caregivers of brain-injured patients in a post-traumatic confusional state”
  • Cheryl Fittizzi, $34,619, HUMC: “Research Roadshow: Educating Students on Alternative Research Careers”
  • Srikanth Jaikumar, $35,000, JFKUMC: “Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities in the South Asian Population”
  • Milena Kordalewska, $50,000, CDI, HMSOM: “Enhanced diagnostic assays for Candida auris bloodstream infections”
  • Dr. David Kountz, $35,000, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, HMSOM: “Teaching the Teachers: Incorporating Social Determinants of Health in HS and College Curriculum”
  • Dr. Robert Lebovics, $50,000, CDI, JFKUMC: “All-trans retinoic acid for the treatment of tracheal stenosis”
  • Charitha Madiraju, $50,000, HMSOM: “Immune regulatory markers in COVID-19 cases of sepsis”
  • Yeraz Markarian, $50,000, HUMC, HMSOM: “OB-WELL: Evaluating the Effectiveness of an Innovative Intervention to Prevent and Treat Postpartum Depression Among High-Risk Mothers”
  • Maria Montealegre, $34,900, JFKUMC: “Improving Emergency Preparedness through Comprehensive Awareness and Education on the Unique Needs of Individuals with Spinal Cord Dysfunction in the Community”
  • Dereje Negatu, $50,000, CDI: “Repurposing of novel B-lactamase inhibitors to improve efficacy of cefoxitin and imipenem for the treatment of Mycobacterium abscessus lung disease”
  • Dr. Vidmantas Petraitis, $50,000, CDI: “Discovery of a Novel Compound (Allosteric Inhibitor PK-188) Targeting a Common Enzyme (MDM-1) and Assessing Effectiveness as a Promising Therapeutic Against Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens”
  • Byungwoo Ryu, $50,000, CDI, HMSOM: “A Novel Strategy for Developing a New Class of Cancer Drugs Targeting MYC”
  • Beryl Sowah, $35,000, JFKUMC, HMSOM: “Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Diabetes Education in the Hispanic Population”
  • Michelle Titunick, $50,000, HMSOM: “The Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation Along the Fracture Healing Timeline in Diabetic Rats”
  • Tanchun Wang, $35,000, HMSOM: “Medication Use and Safety Educational (MUSE) Program: Improving Care for the Elderly in Underserved and Immigrant Community”
  • Dr. Johannes Zakrzewski, $50,000, CDI, John Theurer Cancer Center, HMSOM: “Strategies enhancing NK cell-based immunotherapy of multiple myeloma informed by a comprehensive analysis of the immunosuppressive effects of non-hematopoietic components of the multiple-myeloma-associated tumor microenvironment”
  • Dr. Jennifer Zepf, $35,000, HMSOM: “Improving Diagnosis on Diverse Skin Tones: A Project to Expand a Skin of Color Medical Image Repository”