Melody A. Swartz is the William B. Ogden Professor of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. Her research is focused on the lymphatic system and aims to understand its roles in immunity and pathophysiology, especially in cancer. Her lab draws on bioengineering approaches in cell biology and physiology, to investigate the role of lymphatic vessels in maintaining immunological tolerance and the role of lymphangiogenesis in controlling inflammation and immunity. 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 3D, perfused tumor microenvironment.
Swartz holds a BS from the Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT under the guidance of Dr. Rakesh Jain. After postdoctoral studies at Brigham & Women’s Hospital with Jeffrey Drazen and Roger Kamm, she was an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University. She then spent 12 years at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), or Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where she was a Professor of Bioengineering and later served as the Director of the Institute of Bioengineering. She moved back to the USA in 2014 to join the University of Chicago’s new Institute of Molecular Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Ben May Department of Cancer Research; she is also a member of their Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Committee on Immunology. Her awards include the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Rita Schaffer Young Investigator Award, the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Young Investigator Award, the Wenner Prize from the Swiss Cancer League, and the Leadership Award from the Lymphatic Education & Research Network. She is a 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and was elected in 2018 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.