The 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Honors Dr. Paul Tesar

Dr. Paul Tesar, Professor in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, was awarded the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award which recognizes achievements of an exceptional nature in scientific and medical inquiry, professional practice, and enhancing the lives of others both personally and professionally. This Award is not given in recognition of a single remarkable achievement but is reserved for an NIH-OxCam alumni who has attained and maintained extraordinary impact throughout their career in their chosen fields of endeavor and in their service to society at large. This Award, created in 2020, was bestowed upon Dr. Tesar at the 2021 NIH Global Doctoral Partnerships Research Workshop July 13-15, 2021. 

Dr. Tesar completed his DPhil in 2007 from the University of Oxford. Under the tutelage of Professor Sir Richard Gardner and Dr. Ron McKay and published a landmark paper in Nature describing the discovery of a new type of pluripotent stem cell, epiblast stem cells. This work stands among the most recognized in all of stem cell biology and earned Paul some of the highest graduate student accolades, including the Beddington Medal from the British Society for Developmental Biology and the Harold M. Weintraub Award from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Dr. Tesar returned home to join the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine faculty in 2010 as an Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation Scholar. He is currently a Professor and Dr. Donald and Ruth Weber Goodman Professor of Innovative Therapeutics at CWRU School of Medicine in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences. His laboratory has pioneered new regenerative approaches to treat nervous system disorders including multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, pediatric leukodystrophies, cerebral palsy, and brain cancer. Dr. Tesar’s scientific achievements have been recognized with a number of prestigious awards including being named a Robertson Investigator of the New York Stem Cell Foundation in 2011. One of only four international awardees, the honor recognizes and supports scientists leading their generation in stem cell research.

Additionally, Dr. Tesar received the International Society for Stem Cell Research Outstanding Young Investigator Award in 2015, the New York Stem Foundation – Robertson Stem Cell Prize in 2017, and the Diekhoff Award for Graduate Student Mentoring in 2018. In 2019, Paul was recognized as one of Crain’s Cleveland Business’ “Forty Under 40” and named a “Homegrown Hero” in Academic Research by Cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer. He recently earned the National Institutes of Health honor for outstanding mentorship, the 2021 Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship. He was recognized yet again for his innate mentoring style, which is an “amalgamation of lessons learned from his own scientific mentors, and, notably, from years of participation on competitive sports teams.” 

Dr. Tesar was nominated by fellow NIH OxCam Alumni Dr. Justin Lathia. “It is my utmost pleasure to nominate Dr. Tesar as he continues to be on the forefront of his field, not only innovating, but also remaining committed to excellence in all he does. He is a great teacher, mentor, and colleague and truly exemplifies what it is to be a scientist,” remarked Dr. Lathia.

Dr. Tesar co-founded a Cleveland-based biotechnology company, Convelo Therapeutics, now partnered with Genentech, to advance new therapies from the laboratory into clinical testing to better the lives of patients and their families.