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Paul Tesar

The Dr. Donald and Ruth Weber Goodman Professor of Innovative Therapeutics

Case Western Reserve University
School of Medicine

Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences

PhD, University of Oxford
BS, Case Western Reserve University


About Paul

Dr. Paul Tesar has long been dedicated to impacting society and advancing human health by uncovering the role glial cells play in neurological diseases. He unlocks mechanisms behind glial development and dysfunction, knowledge he then leverages to create groundbreaking therapeutics. His interest in his work having a larger social impact is similarly reflected in his commitment to nurturing the growth of the next generation of researchers, clinicians, and leaders.  


Paul’s passion for biology began during his undergraduate studies in stem cell biology at Case Western Reserve University and expanded to include developmental neuroscience during his doctoral studies at the University of Oxford. Paul’s research, under the tutelage of Professor Sir Richard Gardner and Dr. Ron McKay, provided a paradigm shift on how we understand and utilize stem cells for research and medicine. This work culminated in a landmark paper in Nature describing the discovery of a new type of pluripotent stem cell, epiblast stem cells. This work, and Paul’s subsequent advances, stand among the most recognized in all of stem cell biology.


In 2010, Paul founded the Tesar Lab at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where he pioneered regenerative approaches to treat myelin disorders of the central nervous system including multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, pediatric leukodystrophies, cerebral palsy, and brain cancer. Paul’s physiologically-relevant in vitro cellular platforms combine with high throughput screening approaches that enable him and his colleagues to simultaneously execute thousands of experiments on glial cells. These tools have unlocked the fundamental mechanisms behind glial development and dysfunction that lead to neurological disease.


Paul’s ultimate goals are to advance our understanding of human neurological disease and provide a framework for new glia-targeted medicines that have the potential to treat numerous conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, affecting millions of people around the world. For instance, his work on Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease (PMD), revealed how mutant or excess proteolipid protein during a critical point in glial cell development drives disease. Based on this work, Paul’s group developed a therapy that can suppress levels of this protein and rescue neurological function, and a clinical trial to demonstrate this drug’s safety and efficacy in humans with PMD is scheduled to begin in 2023. To further improve human health by advancing therapies such as this from the laboratory to clinical testing, Paul co-founded Convelo Therapeutics – a Cleveland-based biotechnology company focused on remyelinating therapeutics.  


Paul’s scientific achievements have been recognized with a number of prestigious awards, including being elected as a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors in 2022 and being named a finalist for the Falling Walls Foundation’s 2021 “Scientific Breakthrough of the Year” award. Paul was also named a Robertson Investigator of the New York Stem Cell Foundation in 2011, an honor that recognizes and supports scientists leading their generation in stem cell research. Additionally, Paul has 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, in 2019, Paul was recognized as one of Crain’s Cleveland Business’ “Forty Under 40” and named a “HomeGrown Hero” in Academic Research by Plain Dealer.  


Recent accolades demonstrate Paul’s exceptional ability to and passion for training and mentoring the next generation of researchers.Paul works one-on-one with each trainee to build their core competencies and support their success, tailoring his approach to best fit the needs of each individual. He strives to make the Tesar Lab an inclusive space where junior investigators are able to grow to their fullest potential. In recognition of his dedication to superior mentorship and training in neuroscience research, Paul was one of five faculty in the country awarded the NINDS Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship in 2021. 


Central to Paul’s work is a commitment to countering inequalities that exist in science education and giving back to the greater Cleveland community in which he was born and raised. In 2019, Paul co-founded Rise Up: Northeast Ohio, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that aims to transform science education in Cleveland public middle and high schools by providing active, immersive learning opportunities for students traditionally underrepresented in science and medicine. Each year, Paul and his colleagues in the Tesar Lab lead summer research experiences that nourish students’ interest in science, boosting their confidence, and helping them see themselves as science leaders of tomorrow.


Elected Senior Member

National Academy of Inventors

NINDS Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship

National Institutes of Health

Finalist for “Scientific Breakthrough of the Year” in the Life Sciences

Falling Walls Foundation

International Biomedical Research Alliance Distinguished Alumni Award

NIH Oxford-Cambridge Graduate Program

NINDS Research Program Award (R35)

National Institutes of Health

J. Bruce Jackson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring

Case Western Reserve University

Forty Under 40

Crain's Cleveland Business

HomeGrown Hero

The Plain Dealer &

Diekhoff Award for Graduate Student Mentoring

Case Western Reserve University

Robertson Stem Cell Prize

New York Stem Cell Foundation

Outstanding Young Investigator Award

International Society for Stem Cell Research

Robertson Investigator

New York Stem Cell Foundation

President's Award

Myelin Repair Foundation

Scholar Award

Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation

The Beddington Medal

The British Society for Developmental Biology

Harold M. Weintraub Award

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center