MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow Melody Swartz on 'Immunoengineering: A New Approach to Cancer Research and Beyond'

2014-08-27 by News, Sports, and Art

Melody Swartz, Ph.D. is a swartz closeup2012 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow and currently a professor at the University of Chicago Institute of Molecular Engineering.

Dr. Swartz’s research focuses on how lymphatic vessels, and their transport functions, contribute to adaptive immunity. Biomedical scientists currently regard the fluid-drainage function of the lymphatic system as mostly important for maintaining tissue fluid balance. The cell transport functions, which regulate immunity, are considered separately. She is trying to build a new picture of the lymphatic function—namely, that not only are fluid and cell transport functions of the lymphatic vessels strongly coupled, but that the fluid transport functions are very important in regulating immune responses. Swartz’s team also is trying to target lymphatic vessels for improved cancer immunotherapy because this is one aspect of the tumor microenvironment that seems to contribute to therapeutic failure.

She has received many honors including being awarded a Career Award from the National Science Foundation, an Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator Award, and the Wenner Prize—Switzerland’s largest prize for cancer research. Other recognition includes being named one of Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant 10” in 2006. Dr. Swartz also is an elected fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and a two-time recipient of prestigious $3 million single-investigator grants from the European Research Foundation.

In 2003 Dr. Swartz joined the faculty of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and was a professor in the Institute of Bioengineering and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research until 2014 when she moved to take a professorship at the University of Chicago in the Institute of Molecular Engineering. Her prior affiliations include Northwestern University (1999–2006), and her scientific articles have appeared in Science, Nature, Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, and PNAS.

Melody Swartz received a B.S. (1991) from Johns Hopkins University in chemical engineering. As a Watson Foundation Fellow she then conducted a year of independent research in Micronesia on the “Use and Societal Impact of Western Technologies in Undeveloped Nations.” She earned a Ph.D. (1998) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



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Melody Swartz
Bio page, Unversity of Chicago Institute of Molecular Biology