Peter Tessier Named Richard Baruch Professor

Troy, N.Y. – Protein engineering expert Peter Tessier has been named the Richard Baruch M.D. Career Development Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. An endowed professorship is among the highest honors bestowed on a Rensselaer faculty member.

“We congratulate Dr. Tessier on his appointment as the Richard Baruch M.D. Career Development Professor,” said Shekhar Garde, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. “Pete is an outstanding researcher and a gifted mentor. In the laboratory, his work is pushing the frontiers of protein engineering toward fighting devastating diseases and addressing human health and quality of life. In the classroom, he challenges and inspires students, hastening them along their path to becoming the technological leaders of tomorrow.”

The Richard Baruch M.D. Career Development Professor is supported by an endowment established in 2002 by Johanna and Thomas R. Baruch ’60 to recognize “those promising young faculty members who aspire to achieve their personal best.” Thomas Baruch, who named the chair in honor of his father, serves as a member of the Institute Board of Trustees. The Baruchs have also been generous supporters of Rensselaer and are members of the Stephen Van Rensselaer Society of Patroons.

Tessier is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and a member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer. He joined the Rensselaer faculty as an assistant professor in 2007 following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He was named an associate professor in 2013.

Tessier’s research focuses on designing, developing, and optimizing a class of large therapeutic proteins, or antibodies, that hold great potential for detecting and treating human disorders ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. His research interests include designing antibodies for detecting and treating Parkinson’s and others diseases, redesigning therapeutic antibodies to increase their stability and efficacy, and identifying and optimizing small molecule compounds to inhibit toxic protein aggregation associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

This work has been recognized with a number of awards. In 2010, Tessier received the Pew Scholar Award in Biomedical Sciences, as well as a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation. In 2012, he received a Rensselaer Early Career Award and the Rensselaer School of Engineering Research Excellence Award. In 2014, he received an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to support his research at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. 

Tessier received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Maine, and his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware.