Professor Jennifer Stow

NHMRC Leadership Fellow

Institute for Molecular Bioscience
+61 7 334 62034
+61 7 334 62159


Professor Jennifer Stow is a molecular cell biologist and head of the Protein Trafficking and Inflammation research laboratory in The University of Queensland’s, Institute of Molecular Bioscience (IMB). Professor Stow received her undergraduate and PhD qualifications at Melbourne’s Monash University before undertaking postdoctoral training in the Department of Cell Biology at Yale University School of Medicine, USA. Her first faculty appointment was in the Renal Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston USA, where her research uncovered new roles for a class of enzymes, GTPases, in regulating how proteins are trafficked within cells. Jenny moved her research back to Australia, to The University of Queensland, in late 1994 where her research has continued to uncover molecules and cellular pathways important in immune cells for triggering inflammation, cancer and chronic disease. Her research uses cutting-edge microscopy and live cell imaging and she collaborates nationally and internationally to advance these technologies. Professor Stow has been awarded nine career fellowships including from American Heart Association, Wellcome Trust and NHMRC. She has published >160 papers, cited over 11,500 times and she is the recipient of awards and honours, most recently awarded the 2019 President's Medal from the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology. She has previously served as Division Head and Deputy Director (Research) at IMB, she currently serves on national and international advisory boards, editorial boards and steering committees and she is an elected Associate Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO).

Professor Stow's research is identifying the molecules, cell compartments and pathways that contribute to inflammatory responses in macrophages, epithelial and cancer cells. At a fundamental level this research is defining cell signalling and trafficking pathways that underpin cell and tissue functions that are often impaired in disease. In immune cells such as macrophages, inflammation triggered in response to pathogens helps to fight off infection, but uncontrolled inflammation is a major factor that contributes to the onset and persistence of inflammatory conditions, chronic diseases and cancer. Our research has described how macrophages traffic and secrete inflammatory cytokines or chemical messengers, including through GTPase regulation, and how receptor signalling modulates the cytokine program to control inflammation. These insights reveal new strategies for future control of inflammation through new or existing drugs.

Research Interests

  • Controlling Inflammation: Receptor Signalling and Cytokine Secretion.
    Immune cells like macrophages are activated by contact with pathogens and other stimuli, triggering protective immune and inflammatory responses. Signalling pathways generated by macrophage Toll-like receptors (TLRs) elicit the synthesis and secretion of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines instruct other cells to mount either anti-microbial attack responses, followed by tissue repair responses, that over time, control and suppress inflammation. Disrupting the finely tuned TLR signalling pathways and release of cytokines leads to the inflammatory tissue damage that accompanies many chronic diseases. Our research investigates the roles of TLR signalling regulators, including coreceptors, signalling adaptors, lipid kinases and GTPases that help to bias and control cytokine programming. While current therapies target the cytokines themselves, our research is generating strategies to target additional regulatory molecules to control inflammation in disease.
  • Cellular Pathways to and from the Cell Surface.
    Cells have intimate contact with their tissue environments and each other through many cell surface projections and trafficking pathways that move proteins, membranes and other matter into and out of cells. Live cell imaging and microscopy reveal these behaviours at molecular, cellular and tissue levels. Our research examines the surface features (ruffles, filopodia, cilia) and cellular pathways (macropinocytosis, secretory and recycling pathways) in macrophages, other immune cells, epithelial cells and cancer cells that give each of them specialised functions. As revealed by our research, many of these pathways are governed by small GTPases of the Rab family and their effector molecules. Understanding these pathways is important in disease, for instance, immunity, inflammation and cancer metastasis are all dependent on the Rab-mediated macropinocytosis or cell drinking pathways we investigate.

Research Impacts

Understanding how cells and moelcules within our boodies function is essential for understanding and acting to address diseases and other factors that affect our biology, such as genetics, environment, drugs and bugs. Cells contain remarkably complex pathways for trafficking, or moving proteins around, and for the receptor signalling that controls cell responses. Many of these pathways are affected in disease and are also the targets for drugs we use to treat diseases. Insights gained from our research generate a fundamental understanding of cell biology as a necessary framework for developing new strategies to treat diseases. Poorly controlled inflammation is a pervasive disease process underlying many chronic diseases and our research on immune cells is uncovering how inflammation is normally controlled within cells. This information is instructive for devising strategies and identifying drugs that are likely to control inflammation in different chronic diseases and in cancer.

Our work takes advantage of the cutting-edge rsearch facilities in IMB at The University of Queensland, and we collaborate with many valued colleagues throughout Australia and around the world. Technologically, it is a very exciting time for biological and biomedical research, with the rapid development of new types of microscopy, laser imaging, big image data computing, artificial intelligence and virtual reality capabilities for visualizing and analyzing living cells and tissues. Our research is part of national and global efforts to refine and apply the latest imaging and big data technologies in order to resolve structures and processes in normal cells and in cells affected by disease.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), Monash University


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Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Tong, Samuel J., Lucas, Richard M., Xiao, Zhijian, Luo, Lin and Stow, Jennifer L. (2021). Detecting Endogenous Rab8 Activation. Rab GTPases: Methods and Protocols. (pp. 45-56) New York, NY United States: Humana Press. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-1346-7_4

  • Condon, Nicholas D., Wall, Adam A., Yeo, Jeremy C., Hamilton, Nicholas A. and Stow, Jennifer L. (2017). Image-based analysis of phagocytosis: measuring engulfment and internalization. In Roberto Botelho (Ed.), Phagocytosis and phagosomes: methods and protocols (pp. 201-214) New York, NY, United States: Humana Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-6581-6_13

  • Stow, J. L. and Murray, R. Z. (2015). Post-golgi transport - cargo, carriers, and pathways. Encyclopedia of cell biology. (pp. 363-370) edited by Ralph A. Bradshaw and Philip D. Stahl. Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-394447-4.20035-7

  • Gual-Soler, Marga, Taguchi, Tomohiko, Stow, Jennifer L. and Wicking, Carol (2012). Rab23. Encyclopedia of signalling molecules. (pp. 1532-1536) edited by Sangdun Choi. New York, United States: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-0461-4

  • Stow, J. L. and Teasdale, R. D. (2005). Expression and localization of proteins in mammalian cells. Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioformatics. (pp. ---) edited by P S E Little and J S E Quackenbush. London, England: John Wiley & Sons.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision