Swartz Group: Melody Swartz

William B. Ogden Professor of Molecular Engineering

Swartz Group


  • Phone
  • Address

    Eckhardt Research Center
    Room 379
    5640 South Ellis Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60637

  • Email
  • Assistant
    Alicia Bearden-Mannie


Swartz’s research focuses on elucidating and exploiting the roles of lymphatic function as it relates to cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases including asthma, using a variety of interdisciplinary approaches from bioengineering, immunobiology, physiology, cell biology and biomechanics. Her lab works in both basic hypothesis-driven research as well as in translational applications. A major interest has been to understand the immunological implications of lymphangiogenesis in tumors and other chronic inflammatory conditions, including allergic airway disease. Other current projects include elucidating new immunological functions of lymphatic endothelium and developing novel strategies for targeting the lymphatics and sentinel lymph nodes for immunotherapy. Building novel, physiologically relevant, 3D model systems for recapitulating key features of interest in tumor and lymphatic microenvironments has been an integral part of this research program, and they use those models in complementary ways with mouse models to gain new insight into tumor cell invasion and metastasis. 


Melody A. Swartz is the William B. Ogden Professor in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, where she holds a joint appointment in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research. She obtained her BS from Johns Hopkins and PhD from MIT, both in Chemical Engineering, and carried out postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital. She started her independent career as an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University in the Department of Biomedical Engineering before moving to the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where she was promoted to Full Professor and eventually served as Director of the Institute of Bioengineering.  Trained as a bioengineer, she uses quantitative approaches in immunobiology and physiology, including biotransport and biomechanics, to develop a deeper understanding of how the lymphatic system regulates immunity in homeostasis and disease, particularly in cancer and chronic inflammation. Her lab applies this knowledge to develop novel immunotherapeutic approaches in cancer, including lymph node-targeting vaccine approaches, as well as in vitro model systems that recapitulate relevant features of the tumor-immune interface. Among her many honors, Swartz was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2012, and was elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018.

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