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Porträt Prof. Michele Solimena

Prof. Michele Solimena, MD PhD

Director of the Institute for Pancreatic Islet Research (IPI), Speaker Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of the German Center for Diabetes Research (PLID-DZD) and Professor of Molecular Diabetology at TU Dresden

“I am a cell biologist interested in the mechanisms for production, secretion and turnover of insulin secretory granules in pancreatic islet beta cells. I am driven by curiosity and the desire to understand the pathogenesis of diabetes.”

“I am a cell biologists interested in the mechanisms for production, secretion and turnover of insulin secretory granules in pancreatic islet beta cells. I am driven by curiosity and the desire to understand the pathogenesis of diabetes.”

Academic Career

Michele studied medicine at the University of Milano, where he obtained a MD and a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology. After an assistant and associate professorship in the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, he became group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biology and Genetics in Dresden in 2001. In 2003, he was first appointed Professor of Experimental Diabetology at the Medical Faculty of the TU Dresden. In 2009, he was then appointed Professor of Molecular Diabetology, also at the Medical Faculty of the TU Dresden, and in parallel was made spokesman of the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD). Since 2015, he has also been director of the Institute for Pancreatic Islet Cell Research (IPI) at Helmholtz Munich.

Research Areas

As a postdoc Michele discovered the autoimmune pathogenesis of stiff-man/person syndrome, and GAD65 as major autoantigen in this disease and type 1 diabetes (Solimena et al., NEJM 1988; NEJM 1990, Baekkesokov et al., Nature 1990). Turning his attention to the biology of insulin-secretory granules, he discovered how retrograde signaling of ICA512/PTPRN through STAT5 enables pancreatic islet beta cells to adjust their granule production to consumption to replenish insulin stores and maintain glucose homeostasis (Ort et al., EMBO J, 2001; Trajkovski et al., JCB 2004; Mziaut et al., Nature Cell Biol 2006Mziaut et al., PNAS 2008Trajkovski et al., JBC 2008). He identified PTBP1 as a key mRNA binding-protein for promoting in a concerted fashion the glucose-stimulated stability and translation of mRNAs for granule cargoes, including insulin and ICA512 (Knoch at al., Nature Cell Biol 2004; Knoch et al., Cell Metabolism 2006). He showed that aging of granules correlates with their loss of competence for microtubule-mediated transport, conceivably accounting for the preferential exocytosis of younger granules (Ivanova et al., Diabetes 2013; Hoboth et al., PNAS 2015; Müller et al., Sci. Rep. 2017, Kemter et al., PNAS 2021). Using FIB-SEM his lab resolved the whole beta cell microtubule network, the first time this was achieved in a mammalian cell (Müller et al., JCB 2021; Xu et al., Nature 2021). He further pioneered the study of laser captured microdissected islets/beta cells from metabolically phenotyped living donors, hence unraveling for the first time transcriptomic and proteomic changes of islets in situ along the progression from normoglycemia to type 2 diabetes (Solimena et al., Diabetologia 2018; Wigger et al., Nature Metabolism 2021; Gloyn et al., Nature Metabolism 2022).

Fields of Work and Expertise

Cell BiologyInsulinMembrane TraffickingMicroscopyBeta CellsDiabetes

Professional Background

Since 2015

Director, Institute for Pancreatic Islets Research

Helmholtz Munich and University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus at TU Dresden, Germany

Since 2009

Founding Director and Speaker Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden

Helmholtz Munich and University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus at TU Dresden, Germany

German Center for Diabetes Reserach (DZD e.V.)

Since 2003

Professor of Molecular Diabetology

Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus at TU Dresden, Germany

2001 - 2002

Group Leader

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) Dresden, Germany

1994 - 2001

Assistant and Associate Professor

Department of Internal Medicine and Cell Biology, Yale University School of Medicine, USA

1988 - 1993

Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Cell Biology, Yale University School of Medicine, USA

1993

PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology

University of Milano, Italy

1986

Medical Doctor

University of Milano, Italy

Honors and Awards

  • Executive Board Member
    German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD e.V).
    2020 - 2022

  • Co-founder and Chair
    Gordon Research Conference “Pancreatic Diseases”
    2015

  • Fellow
    Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany
    2007 - 2020

  • Wolfgang Paul Award
    Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
    2001 - 2005

Selected Publications