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Steven M Swanson, PhD


Research interests:

  • Preclinical model systems to investigate the role of the growth hormone/IGF-I axis in prostate carcinogenesis.
  • Molecular & cellular based screens for the discovery of novel anticancer agents from natural substances
  • Elucidation of molecular mechanisms of active compounds
  • Mouse-based studies of preclinical efficiency.


1982 - BS in Biology, Loyola University of Chicago
1990 - PhD in Pharmacognosy, University of Illinois at Chicago
1994 - Post-Doctoral training in carcinogenesis, UC - Berkeley


Dr. Swanson earned his doctorate in Pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Dr. Swanson’s graduate work focused on the ability of retinoids to modulate carcinogen metabolism and binding to nuclear macromolecules such as DNA.  He studied tumor biology and hormonal modulation of mammary carcinogenesis with Satyabrata Nandi in the Cancer Research Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.  For three years, Dr. Swanson served on the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he used animal model systems to elucidate the cellular mechanisms by which dietary substances modulate carcinogenesis.  In 1998, he was recruited back to UIC as an assistant professor where his research has focused on two areas: the discovery of anticancer drugs from natural sources and understanding the role of hormones, particularly growth hormone, in cancer.  His research programs have been continuously funded by federal agencies for the past 19 years and he has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, review articles and book chapters.  Dr. Swanson’s academic leadership positions have included Director of Graduate Studies in Pharmacognosy, Assistant to the Director of the Research Resources Center of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Interim Leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program of the UIC Cancer Center, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, Visiting Vice Dean and Acting Dean of the College of Pharmacy.  He has also served as a Member of the National Institutes of Health Chemo-Dietary Prevention Study Section and as a Scientific Reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs in prostate and breast cancer.  Dr. Swanson is a member of the advisory board of Endocrinology and Associate Editor of the Journal of Natural Products.  In July of 2014, Dr. Swanson became the Dean of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Highlighted Publications:
  • Lantvit DD, Unterberger CJ, Lazar M, Arneson PD, Longhurst CA, Swanson SM, Marker PC. Mammary tumors growing in the absence of growth hormone are more sensitive to doxorubicin than wild-type tumors. Endocrinol. 162: bqab013, 2021. PMCID PMC7881836.
  • Wegner KA, Mueller BR, Unterberger CJ, Avila EJ, Ruetten H, Turco AE, Oakes SR Girardi NM, Halberg RB, Swanson SM, Marker PC, Vezina CM. Prostate epithelial-specific expression of activated PI3K drives stromal collagen production and accumulation. J Pathol.  250: 231-242, 2019. PMCID: PMC7071816
  • Madueke I, Hu WY, Hu D, Swanson SM, Vander Griend, Abern M, Prins GS. The role of WNT10B in normal prostate gland development and prostate cancer. Prostate, 1-13, 2019. PMID: 31433503
  • Zhou YD, Li J, Du L, Mahdi F, Le T, Chen WL, Swanson SM, Watabe K, Nagle D. Biochemical and Anti-Triple Negative Metastatic Breast Tumor Cell Properties of Psammaplins. Mar Drugs. 16: 442-457, 2018. PMCID: PMC6265740
  • Young AN, Herrera D, Huntsman AC, Korkmaz MA, Lantvit DD, Mazumder S, Kolli S, Coss CC, King S, Wang H, Swanson SM, Kinghorn AD, Zhang X, Phelps MA, Aldrich LN, Fuchs JR, Burdette JE. Phyllanthusmin derivatives induce apoptosis and reduce tumor burden in high grade serous ovarian cancer by late-stage autophagy inhibition. Mol Cancer Ther. 17: 2123-2135, 2018. PMCID: PMC6168422
  • May DS, Kang H-S, Santarsiero B, Krunic A, Shen Q, Burdette, J, Swanson SM, Orjala J. Ribocyclophanes A - E, Glycosylated cyclophanes with antiproliferative activity from two cultured terrestrial cyanobacteria. J Nat Prod. 81: 572-578, 2018. PMCID: PMC5898370
  • Hormaechea-Agulla D, Gahete MD, Jiménez-Vacas JM, Gómez-Gómez E, Ibáñez-Costa A, L-López F, Rivero-Cortés E, Sarmento-Cabral A, Valero-Rosa J, Carrasco-Valiente J, Sánchez-Sánchez R, Ortega-Salas R, Moreno MM, Tsomaia N, Swanson SM, Culler MD, Requena MJ, Castaño JP, Luque RM. The oncogenic role of the In1-ghrelin splicing variant in prostate cancer aggressiveness. Mol Cancer 16: 146-162, 2017. PMCID: PMC5576296
  • Chen WL, Ren Y, Ren J, Erxleben C, Johnson ME, Gentile S, Kinghorn AD, Swanson SM, Burdette JE. (+)-Strebloside-induced cytotoxicity in ovarian cancer cells is mediated through cardiac glycoside signaling networks. J Nat Prod. 80: 659−669, 2017. PMCID: PMC5365359
  • Ren Y, Chen WL, Lantvit DD, Sass EJ, Shriwas P, Ninh TN, Chai HB, Zhang X, Soejarto DD, Chen X, Lucas DM, Swanson SM, Burdette, JE, Kinghorn AD. Cardiac glycoside constituents of Streblus asper with potential antineoplastic activity. J Nat Prod. 80: 648-658, 2017. PMCID: PMC5098703
  • Kinghorn AD, Ren Y, Chen WL, Lantvit DD, Ninh TN, Sass EJ, Chai HB, Zhang X, Soejarto DD, Lucas DM, Swanson SM, Burdette JE. Strebloside, a constituent of Streblus asper with antineoplastic activity. Planta Med. 81: S1-S381, 2016. PMID: 27976344

See Dr. Swanson's full list of publications on PubMed.