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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:
  • VanderMolen KM, Darveaux BA, Chen WL, Swanson SM, Pearce CJ, Oberlies NH.  Epigenetic Manipulation of a Filamentous Fungus by the Proteasome-Inhibitor Bortezomib Induces the Production of an Additional Secondary Metabolite. RSC Adv. 2014 Jan 1;4(35):18329-18335. PubMed PMID: 24955237.
  • Ren Y, Lantvit DD, Deng Y, Kanagasabai R, Gallucci JC, Ninh TN, Chai HB, Soejarto DD, Fuchs JR, Yalowich JC, Yu J, Swanson SM, Kinghorn AD. Potent Cytotoxic Arylnaphthalene Lignan Lactones from Phyllanthus poilanei. J Nat Prod. 2014 Jun 27;77(6):1494-504. doi: 10.1021/np5002785. Epub 2014 Jun 12. PubMed PMID: 24937209.
  • Acuña UM, Matthew S, Pan L, Kinghorn AD, Swanson SM, Carcache de Blanco EJ. Apoptosis Induction by 13-Acetoxyrolandrolide through the Mitochondrial Intrinsic Pathway. Phytother Res. 2013 Dec 12. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5091. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24338805.
  • Yong Y, Matthew S, Wittwer J, Pan L, Shen Q, Kinghorn AD, Swanson SM, DE Blanco EJ. Dichamanetin inhibits cancer cell growth by affecting ROS-related signaling components through mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis. Anticancer Res. 2013 Dec;33(12):5349-55. PubMed PMID: 24324069.
  • El-Elimat T, Figueroa M, Raja HA, Adcock AF, Kroll DJ, Swanson SM, Wani MC, Pearce CJ, Oberlies NH. Waol A, trans-dihydrowaol A, and cis-dihydrowaol A: polyketide-derived γ-lactones from a Volutella species. Tetrahedron Lett. 2013 Aug 7;54(32):4300-4302. PubMed PMID: 23956472.
  • Bueno Pérez L, Li J, Lantvit DD, Pan L, Ninh TN, Chai HB, Soejarto DD, Swanson SM, Lucas DM, Kinghorn AD. Bioactive constituents of Indigofera spicata. J Nat Prod. 2013 Aug 23;76(8):1498-504. doi: 10.1021/np400567c. Epub 2013 Jul 30. PubMed PMID: 23895019.
  • Felice DL, El-Shennawy L, Zhao S, Lantvit DL, Shen Q, Unterman TG, Swanson SM, Frasor J. Growth hormone potentiates 17β-estradiol-dependent breast cancer cell proliferation independently of IGF-I receptor signaling. Endocrinology. 2013 Sep;154(9):3219-27. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-2208. Epub 2013 Jun 19. PubMed PMID: 23782942.
  • Pearce CJ, Lantvit DD, Shen Q, Jarjoura D, Zhang X, Oberlies NH, Kroll DJ, Wani MC, Orjala J, Soejarto DD, Farnsworth NR, de Blanco EJ, Fuchs JR, Kinghorn AD, Swanson SM. Use of the hollow fiber assay for the discovery of novel anticancer agents from fungi. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;944:267-77. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-122-6_20. PubMed PMID: 23065624.
  • Kang HS, Sturdy M, Krunic A, Kim H, Shen Q, Swanson SM, Orjala J. Minutissamides E-L, antiproliferative cyclic lipodecapeptides from the cultured freshwater cyanobacterium cf. Anabaena sp. Bioorg Med Chem. 2012 Oct 15;20(20):6134-43. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2012.08.017. Epub 2012 Aug 22. PubMed PMID: 22980217.
  • Figueroa M, Graf TN, Ayers S, Adcock AF, Kroll DJ, Yang J, Swanson SM, Munoz-Acuna U, Carcache de Blanco EJ, Agrawal R, Wani MC, Darveaux BA, Pearce CJ, Oberlies NH. Cytotoxic epipolythiodioxopiperazine alkaloids from filamentous fungi of the Bionectriaceae. J Antibiot (Tokyo). 2012 Nov;65(11):559-64. doi: 10.1038/ja.2012.69. Epub 2012 Sep 12. PubMed PMID: 22968289.

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