The Laboratory of Lymphatic and Cancer Bioengineering has closed in 2016

Prof Melody Swartz has a new lab at the Institute for Molecular Engineering of  The University of Chicago, USA.

About us

Our lab is focused on understanding the physiology and biology of interstitial and lymphatic transport: how it is actively regulated by cells, how it affects cancer metastasis, immune cell trafficking, and adaptive immunity, and how it can be exploited for drug delivery, vaccines, and immunotherapy. We aim to elucidate such functional biology by integrating in vivo, in vitro, and in silico approaches. In doing so, we are both uncovering new fundamental mechanisms of lymphatic physiology, as well as describing new design principles for tissue engineering and drug delivery.

Recent research highlights

Image from the Swartz lab on the Cover of Cancer Immunology Research (August 2014 edition)

  The cover image is an immunofluorescence confocal microscopy image of an immunostained whole mount preparation of the dorsal mouse ear dermis, which shows lymphatic capillaries (Lyve-1, green), basement membrane (collagen IV, cyan), MHC class II cells (white), and blood vessels (CD31, red). CD31 is also present in cell–cell junctions of the lymphatic vessels (yellow). Scale bar, 50 microns. Tissue preparation, immunostaining, and confocal immunofluorescence imaging were performed by Witold Kilarski.

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JOVE paper published on "Long-term Intravital Immunofluorescence Imaging of Tissue Matrix Components with Epifluorescence and Two-photon Microscopy"

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Intravital image acquired by Witold Kilarski and Amanda Lund featured in Nature article


Cover image of the Nature article “Tracking metastasis and tricking cancer” by Vivien Marx featuring novel intravital immunofluorescence technique by Kilarski WW, Guç E, Teo J, Oliver RS, Lund A and Melody Swartz for imaging the migration of immune cells and metastasis.

Image: metastatic B16 melanoma cancer cells (green) entering LYVE1+ lymphatic vessels (red)


Esra Güc wins 12th rank in Nikon Small World Competition 2012 and 1st place in the popular vote


3D lymphangiogenesis assay. Cells sprout from dextran beads embedded in fibrin gel. (200x)

Technique: Fluorescence and Confocal

Find more information about the competition here

Engineering Approaches to Immunotherapy

ONLINE COVER Immunology, Meet Engineering. As translational immunology delves deeper into mechanism, there is a desire for quantitative, design-based bioengineering tools to aid in not only understanding human disease, but also treating it. In this issue of Science Translational Medicine, Swartz et al. discuss the budding relationship between engineers and immunologists by reviewing various opportunities for collaboration in the emerging field of "immunoengineering." In one vaccine- related example depicted on the cover, nanoparticles carrying antigen (red, orange, and blue) can be taken up by antigen-presenting cells in target tissues before traveling through lymphatic vessels (in green) to the lymph node. [CREDIT: Y. HAMMOND/SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE]

Melody A. Swartz, Sachiko Hirosue, and Jeffrey A. Hubbell (2012). Engineering Approaches to Immunotherapy. Science Translational Medicine (doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003763)


Lymphatics in the tumor microenvironment: more than just an ‘escape route’

A.W. Lund, F.V. Duraes, S. Hirosue, S.N. Thomas, C. Nembrini, S. Hugues, and M.A. Swartz (2012). Tumor VEGF-C promotes immune tolerance and tumor antigen cross-presentation by lymphatics. Cell Reports (doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2012.01.005)

M.A. Swartz and A.W. Lund (2012). Opinion: Lymphatic and interstitial flow in the tumour microenvironment: linking mechanobiology with immunity. Nature Reviews Cancer (doi:10.1038/nrc3186)
How dendritic cells interpret complex extracellular chemokine gradients

Haessler U, Pisano M, Wu M, Swartz MA (2011). Dendritic cell chemotaxis in 3D under defined chemokine gradients reveals differential response to ligands CCL21 and CCL19. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (doi:10.1073/pnas.1014920108)