Peter T. Meinke, PhD, an accomplished chemist with more than 30 years of industry and academic experience, has been selected to lead the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute (Tri-I TDI). A pioneering academic-industry collaboration, the Tri-I TDI is designed to expedite early-stage small molecule and antibody drug discovery into novel treatments for patients.
The Tri-I TDI is an independent, nonprofit corporation created by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medicine, in partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. Dr. Meinke will be the Sanders Director of the Tri-I TDI and Director of its Sanders Innovation and Education Initiative, which was created in recognition of the $15 million gift from Lewis and Ali Sanders to help establish the institute in 2013. (The couple subsequently made an additional $15 million gift to the TDI in 2015.)
Since last year, Dr. Meinke has been Vice President of Preclinical Development at the Tri-I TDI, as well as the Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry at Bridge Medicines, the Tri-I TDI’s for-profit collaborator. Dr. Meinke was also recently Executive Director of Medicinal Chemistry for Merck, based in Shanghai, China. While at Merck, he contributed to the discovery and development of the Merck drug elbasvir, which treats chronic hepatitis C infection in adults. This work earned him and his colleagues the American Chemical Society’s Heroes of Chemistry Award in 2017. He is also the founder and President of Meinke Pharma Consulting.
“After an exhaustive national search for a new CEO, we are confident that Dr. Meinke is the right person to accelerate our exciting next phase of the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute,” said David Scheinberg, MD, PhD, a member of the Tri-I TDI’s board of directors and head of the search committee, as well as Chair of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Molecular Pharmacology Program and Director of the Experimental Therapeutics Center.
“My time at the TDI over the past year and a half has demonstrated to me the transformational power afforded by marrying the creativity of Tri-I TDI scientists with experienced drug discovery professionals,” said Dr. Meinke. “It is a privilege for me to build on the momentum of the TDI as we continue to realize its mission of accelerating basic science discoveries into novel therapeutics.”
“Over the past five years, access to the resources of the Tri-I TDI has been transformative for our faculty members, enabling them to pursue novel therapeutics based on their fundamental discoveries,” said Richard P. Lifton, MD, PhD, President of The Rockefeller University. “Peter has an extraordinary track record in drug development, and I have no doubt that the Tri-I TDI will continue to flourish under his leadership — to the benefit of Tri-I scientists and medicine as a whole.”
“Dr. Meinke’s depth of experience in pharmaceutical development and business acumen are invaluable assets to the Tri-I TDI and its potential to influence the drug development landscape,” said Augustine M.K. Choi, MD, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine. “I am confident that his strategic approach will help advance our scientific discoveries and those of our collaborators to benefit patients.”
“Dr. Meinke’s sterling experience and exceptional vision and leadership will help continue the success of the Tri-I TDI and aid our mission to transform New York City into a renowned hub for biotechnology and life sciences,” said Craig Thompson, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
The Tri-I TDI relies on recommendations from its scientific advisory board to select research projects that hold the greatest scientific promise and present the most innovative approaches to advancing human health. Three projects from a portfolio of 57 that the Tri-I TDI supports have generated enough evidence to demonstrate that they are now ready for the next phase of therapeutic development, which is intended to lead to investigational new drug applications with the US Food and Drug Administration. As many as eight other Tri-I TDI projects could go on to further therapeutic development this year.
Dr. Meinke will oversee a staff of 30, many of them top scientists from large pharmaceutical companies who were recruited to work in a more lean and autonomous culture. While most of the funding for the Tri-I TDI comes from philanthropic support, the goal of the Tri-I TDI is to become self-sustaining.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Meinke has published more than 90 academic papers and filed nearly 40 patent applications. He has been a member of the American Chemical Society since 1983. He earned his PhD in organic chemistry at Syracuse University following undergraduate education at Eckerd College and did his postdoctoral work at Columbia University.
Dr. Meinke succeeds Michael Foley, PhD, who had led the Tri-I TDI since its inception.