Hat trick of awards for IMB smart women

31 Aug 2007

Professor Jennifer Stow from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) has been awarded a Smart Women: Smart State award for her work on cells, which may lead to alternative treatments for inflammatory disease. 

It is the third time in as many years that an IMB researcher has received a Smart Women: Smart State award, following the success of Professor Melissa Little in 2006 and Professor Jenny Martin in 2005. 

Professor Stow is researching immune cells in order to understand how they function, and then how they malfunction in inflammatory disease and cancer. 

These cells release proteins known as inflammatory mediators. 

“Usually, these mediators act at the site of tissue damage or infection in order to repair it,” Professor Stow said. 

“But if they are activated inappropriately, they can trigger diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. This means we can develop successful treatments for these diseases by targeting the inflammatory mediators.” 

Professor Stow and her team have made discoveries that suggest new drug targets and new approaches for developing drugs to treat inflammatory diseases and also to combat inflammatory mediators in cancer. 

While current drugs on the market show that targeting inflammatory mediators is a successful therapeutic approach, they are expensive and also have the complication of leaving patients without immunity and susceptible to many infections. Professor Stow's research offers the potential for alternative drugs, 10 years from now, that will be effective without damaging the immune system. 

IMB Director Professor Brandon Wainwright congratulated Professor Stow on her award. 

“Professor Stow's research is not only of a very high quality, but it has the potential to one day make a real difference in the lives of people who are suffering from inflammatory diseases,” Professor Wainwright said. 

“The fact that this is the third win a row for the IMB also testifies to the fantastic work being done by our female researchers, and will hopefully demonstrate to young women that they too can have a successful career in science.” 

Media contacts:
Professor Jennifer Stow - 07 3346 2034
Bronwyn Adams, IMB Communications - 07 3346 2134 or 0418 575 247