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Dr Emily Jane Swindle BSc (Hons) PhD

Associate Professor in Pharmacology

Dr Emily Jane Swindle's photo

Dr Emily Jane Swindle is an Associate Professor in Pharmacology within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Biographical Sketch:

Dr Emily Swindle was appointed Associate Professor in Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton in March 2018. She gained her doctorate in Immunopharmacology from the University of Liverpool in 2003 under the supervision of Dr John Coleman studying the mechanisms of IgE-mediated mast cell (MC) activation. She then moved to the USA to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health under the supervision of Dr Dean Metcalfe to expand her studies of MC activation in allergic asthma and investigate MC responses to innate stimuli. While at NIH she received a Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE). On returning to the UK, she continued her interest in respiratory diseases undertaking research with Prof. Donna Davies on a multidisciplinary project investigating the interaction of bronchial epithelial cells (BEC) and dendritic cells in asthma using a novel microfluidic device to monitor the epithelial barrier by electrical impedance spectroscopy. This was in collaboration with Prof. Hywel Morgan (IfLS). In 2010, Emily was awarded a career track fellowship by the Faculty of Medicine to investigate the interaction of MCs with BECs in viral-induced exacerbations of asthma. Her current research focuses on building complex models of the airways incorporating structural cells and MCs to determine their role in viral-induced exacerbations of asthma.


BSc (Hons) Pharmacology, University of Liverpool (1999)
PhD Immunopharmacology, University of Liverpool (2003)

Appointments held:

Postdoctoral Fellow, Mast Cell Biology Section, Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, USA (2003-2008)

Postdoctoral Research fellow, Division of Infection, Inflammation and Immunity, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (2008-2010)

Senior Research Fellow (Faculty of Medicine Postdoctoral Career Track Awardee), Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (2010-2012)

Lecturer in Pharmacology, Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (2013-2018)

Associate Professor in Pharmacology, Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (March 2018 – present)

Research interests

Dr Emily Swindle’s research focuses on building complex in vitro models of the airways incorporating structural cells and immune cells (including mast cells and dendritic cells) to determine their role in viral-induced exacerbations of asthma. She has an interdisciplinary approach to her research with close collaborations with Electronic and Computer Sciences, Engineering and Chemistry. There are 3 main areas of her research

Interaction of Bronchial Epithelial Cells with innate immune cells: Bronchial epithelial cells form a physical, chemical and immunological barrier of the airways which restricts the free passage of solutes and particles from the external to the internal environment. My research is focused on understanding the complex interaction between epithelial cells and other resident structural cells of the airway including fibroblast and resident immune cells including mast cells (MCs) and dendritic cells (DCs) during rhinovirus infection in asthma. These models of the airway use differentiated primary bronchial epithelial cells (BECs), monocyte-derived DCs and MCs from cord blood as well as cell lines. This will allow the elucidation of the complex interactions between resident immune cells and structural cells of the airways in the context of asthma exacerbations.

Understanding the role of mast cells in innate immunity: Mast cells are tissue-resident immune cells that are classically associated with the early phase reaction in allergic asthma. However, over the past 20 years there has been a growing realisation that mast cells are key drivers of innate immunity. Lying at the interface between the internal and external environment they sense pathogens and are key to the recruitment of inflammatory cells. While their role in bacterial induced immunity is established their role in viral immunity is not so clear. Current research is focused on elucidating the contribution of mast cells to respiratory virus infection including rhinovirus.

An interdisciplinary approach to studying the epithelial barrier: Animal models of allergic asthma fail to recapitulate the complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors which together contribute to the human disease. In collaboration with Prof. Hywel Morgan, Prof. Donna Davies, Dr Jane Collins and Dr Tim Millar current research involves building a microfluidic device incorporating electrical impedance spectroscopy to monitor responses of the mucosal epithelial barrier to environmental stimuli. This device has greater sensitivity than static cultures and allows real-time monitoring of cellular responses to environmental stimuli. We are also using this device to look at endothelial and epithelial cell co-cultures to environmental stimuli which models the airway-blood barrier.

Current research in Dr Swindle’s laboratory is kindly supported by NC3Rs, DSTL, The Allergy, Asthma & Inflammation Research (AAIR) charity and The Gerald Kerkut Charitable trust.

Healthy and asthmatic airways
Healthy and asthmatic airways

Research group

Clinical and Experimental Sciences

Postgraduate Student Supervision


2016 Dr Jessica Donaldson (with Prof Donna Davies and Dr Matt Edwards)
2017 Dr Alison Hill (with Prof Donna Davies)
2018 Dr Riccardo Reale (with Prof Hywel Morgan, ECS)
2018 Dr Charlene Akoto (with Prof Donna Davies)


2015 Hayden Foster
2016 Chiara Banas
2017 Jonathan James
2017 João Fernandes
2017 Nikita Karra 

Faculty of Medicine
Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team member – CES representative

National and International Responsibilities
Member of the scientific committee of the Allergy, Asthma & Inflammation Research (AAIR) charity
Local organising committee member - European Mast Cell and Basophil Research Network (EMBRN)/Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) meeting (2011)

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Book Chapter


BM4 and BM5: is a member of the Pharmacology teaching team, delivering Pharmacology lectures, tutorials and practical sessions to undergraduate medical students during their Foundations of Medicine course in Years 1 and 2. She is also involved in the Scientific Basis of Medicine sessions during Year 3 and is the Pharmacology deputy lead for BM5 Year 2 Semester 4

BIOL 6037: delivers a journal club session on the undergraduate masters course

MSc Allergy: Delivers Lecture on ‘The Immunology of Allergy: IgE-mediated early and late phase inflammatory reactions’ in the Foundation of Allergic Diseases part of the course

Dr Emily Jane Swindle
Faculty of Medicine, Room AB215, Mailpoint 801, South Academic Block, University Hospital Southampton, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD

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