Rensselaer Professor Peter Tessier Receives NSF CAREER Award

March 5, 2010

Rensselaer Professor Peter Tessier Receives NSF CAREER Award

Peter Tessier

Peter Tessier, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has won a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Tessier will use the five-year, $411,872 award to further his research into protein thermodynamics and aggregation.

“We congratulate Dr. Tessier for winning this prestigious NSF CAREER Award,” said David Rosowsky, dean of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering. “His research into the misfolding and aggregation of proteins are profoundly important to solving key challenges related to understanding and treating neurodegenerative diseases. Pete’s work, which integrates aspects of chemical engineering with molecular and cellular biology, is another excellent example of the world-changing interdisciplinary research taking place at Rensselaer. We are very proud of his being selected to receive the NSF CAREER Award and look forward to his continued success at Rensselaer.”

Tessier’s new research program, titled “Loop engineering of protein surfaces for tunable self-association and phase behavior,” seeks to explain how the behavior of antibodies may be better controlled and utilized for treating human disease. He will investigate how antibody self-association and phase behavior can be modulated in a systematic manner through alteration of solvent exposed loops on antibody surfaces. The project has broad implications for preventing disease-associated protein aggregation, enabling the creation of more stable therapeutic proteins, and manipulating assembly of protein crystals.

The award also entails involving students from a middle school and high school in New York’s Capital Region in the process of discovery and development of a therapeutic antibody, with the goal of encouraging these young people to pursue biomolecular science and engineering in their future education and careers.

The CAREER Award is given to faculty members at the beginning of their academic careers and is one of NSF’s most competitive awards, placing emphasis on high-quality research and novel education initiatives.

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.

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161