Kansas City,
13:43 PM

Dr. Paul Kulesa Joins Children's Mercy Kansas City to Lead Efforts in Developmental Neuroscience Research

Dr. Paul Kulesa

Paul Kulesa, PhD, joined Children’s Mercy Kansas City on February 5 as a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Health. Dr. Kulesa will continue his groundbreaking work in developmental neurosciences to further enhance the Division’s research program. In addition to his role in research, he will partner with local, regional and national institutions to train the next generation of neuroscientists.

“We are excited to have Dr. Kulesa bring his cutting-edge research to Children’s Mercy,” said Jeanne James, MD, MBA, FAAP, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. “He will lead efforts to develop state-of-the-art research capabilities in imaging and computational modeling to observe and predict how complex cell behaviors give rise to form and function. Dr. Kulesa’s work is truly directed at the basis of neurodevelopment and the underpinnings of behavioral health in children.”

Dr. Kulesa is a quantitative developmental biologist. His expertise lies at the intersection between biology and mathematics. He collects multi-scale data and constructs models to explain complex biological phenomena such as collective cell migration —a process essential to development of the nervous system and disease. His research focuses on neural crest cell development and how mistakes in migration and patterning lead to human birth defects and disease. Neural crest cells are highly migratory embryonic cells in vertebrates —animals with backbones. 

“I am honored and delighted to join the Children’s Mercy team,” said Dr. Kulesa. “Through basic research in complex biological phenomena, we are poised to better understand early human development and help clinicians overcome challenges that lead to improved quality of life for sick children.”

Dr. Kulesa has been the principal investigator on multiple projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, including the following three ongoing projects: “Investigating the Relationship Between Sympathetic Nervous System Development and Neuroblastoma;” “A Novel Platform to Enhance Single Cell Interrogation of Nervous System Development;,” and “Application of Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Data to a Predictive Model of Neuroblastoma.

Before joining Children’s Mercy, Dr. Kulesa was the founding Director of Imaging at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. During his almost two decades at the Stowers Institute, he established an internationally recognized program in neural crest cell biology. While there, he trained students in techniques to study cell migration during vertebrate development, using neural crest and neural crest-derived cancer models. Following his work at the Stowers Institute, he was the Berthiaume Family Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Kulesa received postdoctoral training in developmental cell biology and imaging at Caltech, a PhD in applied mathematics from the University of Washington, an MS in applied mathematics from the University of Southern California, and a BS in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame.