A fascination with immune cells has led to a University of Queensland researcher, Professor Jennifer Stow, to be elected to the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), a body promoting excellence in life sciences. She is one of eight non-Europeans and the only Australian to achieve this honour.

Professor Stow said it is very rewarding to be acknowledged internationally for her contributions to cell biology, and to join EMBO to promote and advance life sciences research. “This position will provide Australia with more ties with science in Europe, offering new opportunities for scientific collaboration and technology development. I look forward to engaging with EMBO members in my research and working with them in science policy, advocacy and developing new career opportunities for young people working between Europe and Australia,” Professor Stow said.

Professor Stow was integral in setting up the IMB Microscopy facility in 2009, which allows researchers to see cells and tissues in exquisite detail, including recording living cells in 3D. “Newly developed microscopes are revealing exciting information previously beyond our reach, shifting the scientific frontier. Technology is moving so fast that it is imperative for Australia to collaborate in global alliances to further develop these technologies for research and industry,” she said.

Her cell explorations have driven her search for ways to combat disease processes, including inflammation, which is a key factor in inflammatory diseases, chronic diseases and cancer.

“My work on macrophages and other cells has contributed to our current understanding and ‘textbook knowledge’ of how these cells mount inflammatory or immune responses. Inflammatory cytokines are important drug targets in inflammatory diseases and we have described how they are controlled and released by cells. We have also recently discovered how cells ‘drink’, revealing cellular mechanisms that can potentially be targeted in both inflammatory diseases and cancer.

EMBO Director Maria Leptin said in addition to Professor Stow, the new EMBO Associate Members are researchers working in Argentina, Japan, Singapore and the United States. “EMBO Members are excellent scientists who conduct research at the forefront of all life science disciplines, ranging from computational models or analyses of single molecules and cellular mechanics to the study of higher-order systems in development, cognitive neuroscience and evolution,” she said.

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