The William B. Ogden Professor
Institute for Molecular Engineering
Melody Swartz’s research focuses on how lymphatic vessels and their transport functions contribute to immunity and cancer. The lymphatic system is typically considered to serve primarily transport functions—of fluid and molecules to maintain tissue equilibrium and of immune cells from the periphery to lymph nodes. However Swartz’s lab has revealed new immune functions of lymphatic endothelial cells that are strongly linked to the transport functions of lymphatic vessels. With these new insights, she is attempting to build a new picture of the lymphatic function, in which the fluid and cell transport functions of the lymphatic vessels are intrinsically involved in regulating immune responses. Her team is also trying to target lymphatic vessels for vaccine delivery as well as for improved cancer immunotherapy, since lymphatic involvement is one aspect of the tumor microenvironment that seems to contribute to therapeutic failure.
Swartz’s many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Career Award from the National Science Foundation, and the Wenner Prize, Switzerland’s largest prize for cancer research. She is an elected fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and in 2006 was named one of Popular Science’s Brilliant 10.
Swartz earned her PhD in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her prior affiliations include Northwestern University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL).
Swartz joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2014.