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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor Peter M. Tessier named Pew Scholar

Troy, N.Y. Peter M. Tessier, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been named a 2010 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The distinction includes an award of $240,000 over four years and inclusion into a select community of scientists that includes three Nobel Prize winners, three MacArthur Fellows, and two recipients of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

"We congratulate Dr. Tessier for being selected as a Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences, an honor reserved for the most promising young faculty in the biomedical field," said David Rosowsky, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. "We are extremely proud of Peter for being named a Pew Scholar as well as his recent CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and we look forward to his continued development as a leading scholar and researcher. Dr. Tessier's recent recognitions are further evidence of the very high caliber of faculty we are attracting to Rensselaer."

Tessier joined the Rensselaer faculty in 2007 following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Maine, and went on to earn his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware.

Tessier is investigating fundamental aspects of misfolding and clumping of three classes of proteins, long strings of molecules that participate in virtually every cellular process. Proteins fold into complex, three-dimensional structures, which is required for their proper function. Defects in the folding process can occur, which creates toxic protein clumps that are the basis of disorders ranging from Alzheimer's disease to glaucoma.

Tessier's immediate goal is to understand how the incorrect processing of proteins can be prevented, reversed, or redirected. His long-term objective is to develop new therapies to treat diseases related to toxic protein aggregation.

The Pew Scholars program enables scientists to take calculated risks, expand their research, and explore unanticipated leads. According to Pew, the program now in its 25th year has invested more than $125 million to fund nearly 500 scholars. Many of the nation's best early-career scientistsworking in all areas of physical and life sciences related to biomedical researchapply to the rigorously competitive program. Applicants are nominated by one of 155 invited institutions and demonstrate excellence and innovation in their research.

"Twenty-five years ago, the Pew Charitable Trusts identified a tremendous opportunity to impact the world of science by supporting the most promising young investigators and encouraging them to pursue their best ideas without restrictions," said Rebecca W. Rimel, president and CEO of the Pew Charitable Trusts. "Motivating scientists at this point in their careers is essential to advancing discovery and innovation, and Pew is honored to continue its commitment to this cadre of high-quality researchers."

Earlier this year, Tessier was also awarded a five-year, $411,872 Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further his research into protein thermodynamics and aggregation.


Contact: Mary Martialay
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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