School of Medicine faculty member receives prestigious award for stem cell research

Paul Tesar in a labStill early in his career, Paul Tesar’s continuous string of accomplishments grew even more robust on Jan. 20 when he was named the recipient of the prestigious International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Outstanding Young Investigator Award, the premier international award for young stem cell researchers. Tesar will accept the honor at the 2015 ISSCR annual meeting this June in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tesar’s award reflects not only the caliber of his work, but also the excellence of the Cleveland stem cell community and the degree of collaboration in the region.

A native of Cleveland’s east side, Tesar earned his undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University in 2003, studying mesenchymal stem cell biology in the biology department. Following his success at CWRU, Tesar was selected for a prestigious scholarship from the National Institutes of Health to pursue graduate studies at the University of Oxford—where he earned his PhD in only 3.5 years. During his studies, he published a landmark paper in Nature, which serves as one of the most cited papers in all of stem cell biology.

Tesar returned home “to help keep Cleveland great,” accepting a faculty position in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at CWRU School of Medicine in 2010 at the age of 28. In only a few years, Tesar has assembled an outstanding team of scientists who have collectively established Cleveland as a leader in pluripotent stem cell biology.

With a continuous string of scientific breakthroughs published in top-tier medical research journals and recognized in hundreds of national and international media stories, Tesar’s stem cell expertise has become a game changer helping to advance stem cell-based therapeutics and usher in the age of personalized medicine. Recent studies in journals such as Nature Methods, Nature Biotechnology, and Cell Stem Cell have reshaped our understanding of stem cell biology and provided the foundation for cutting-edge therapies.

In addition to his primary appointment as a tenured associate professor in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, Tesar holds secondary appointments in the Department of Neurosciences, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, the National Center for Regenerative Medicine, and the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. He also serves as director of the Pluripotent Stem Cell Facility at CWRU. In 2014, Tesar was appointed to an endowed professorship as the Dr. Donald and Ruth Weber Goodman Professor of Innovative Therapeutics.

Tesar’s scientific efforts focus on the development of new technologies for the treatment of human nervous system disorders including multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, brain cancer and rare genetic disorders called leukodystrophies. These diseases collectively impact millions of people worldwide and there are no cures. With a picture of the Cleveland skyline spanning his office wall, Tesar is “determined to change that.”

Tesar’s work is providing progress in a class of diseases that have proven to be challenging to master because of the complexity of the brain. He has executed genuine breakthroughs in the field of stem cell biology that are providing opportunities for clinical translation that a decade ago would not have been possible.