MMI Director Prof. Bhanu P. Jena 
recognized with the 2024 “Lipid Science Prize”

MMI Academic President and Director Prof. Bhanu P. Jena recognized with the 2024 “Lipid Science Prize” for his pioneering discovery of the ‘porosome’ -the nanomachine through which cells secrete to establish chemical communication with each other to sustain life.

 Secretion is a fundamental process in cells from yeast to humans to communicate with other cells in the body and sustain life. A large number of products are synthesized and packaged in membrane vesicles to be secreted from cells to carry out essential physiological functions such as nerve transmission, digestion, hormone release and immune response. How cells very precisely secrete a portion of the secretory vesicle contents have been answered through the work of Prof. Bhanu P Jena. 

In the mid 1990s Prof. Jena discovered a new cellular structure at the plasma membrane in pancreatic digestive enzyme secreting cells he termed ‘porosome’ that govern the transport and regulated secretion of digestive enzymes. During the next twenty-five years, Prof. Jena characterized in great detail the molecular underpinnings of the porosome-mediated secretory process. He also showed that similar “secretory portals” or “porosomes”, are present in all cell types including endocrine cells secreting hormones, human bronchial epithelial cells secreting mucus and brain neurons secreting neurotransmitters. The principles discovered and described by Prof. Jena turned out to be universal, operating similarly in all animal cells. 

A number of human hereditary diseases are caused by mutations in some of the nearly 30 proteins composing the porosome complex. Jena’s discovery of the porosome, in addition to providing a deep understanding of cell secretion, has also contributed to the establishment of a drug development platform for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. Among the many therapeutic application is porosome reconstitution in human bronchial epithelia to treat cystic fibrosis, in stem cell derived beta cells for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes and holds great promise for the targeted therapy of undruggable proteins. 

Two editorials published on the porosome discovery, one in 2003 [] and another in 2023 [], summarizes the pioneering discovery of the porosome and its impact in cell physiology and medicine. 

Prof. Jena is being recognized with the 2024 “Lipid Science Prize” by the Camurus Lipid Research Foundation, Lund, Sweden [], for his pioneering discovery of the ‘porosome’ -the universal secretory machinery in cells

MMI Board of Trustees, Boston, MA

"2024 Lipid Science Prize” Announcement at Wayne State University