Congratulations on your endowment award! What does it mean to have received The Bruce C. Richardson MD Department of Internal Medicine Early Career Endowment Award? How will it further your work?

It means quite a bit. Endowments are usually reserved for senior faculty who are well-established, but our Department of Medicine has decided to use these awards to recognize and support young faculty who are still launching their careers. This shows how invested the Department is in its junior faculty and affirms that the work we’re doing is valued.

I’m especially pleased that my friend, colleague, and collaborator Dr. Hallie Prescott (also an MCIRCC member!) also received one of these endowment awards. Hallie and I trained as fellows together, and since then she’s done field-changing work using social science techniques to understand sepsis. Across the research spectrum (from the molecule to the population), I truly believe there is no better place to build a career studying critical illness than here at Michigan.

Please share your most recent research accomplishment.

We've recently been studying how inhaled oxygen (the most commonly delivered drug in the ICU!) influences bacterial communities in the lungs. We’ve discovered that this effect of oxygen on the lung microbiome contributes to lung injury in critically ill patients. We just received exciting news from the NIH, indicating that we’ll be well-supported to figure out the mechanisms and clinical significance of this discovery.  

How has your MCIRCC involvement impacted your research and/or you professionally?

In so many ways! My research is quite translational, spanning from bacterial physiology to animal models to human studies to hospital-level observational studies. Every tier of this has been enriched by MCIRCC. I’ve forged invaluable collaborations, I’ve made use of novel assays developed in our engineering schools, I’ve used our porcine models of sepsis and ARDS, and I’ve validated key findings from our animal studies using interrogation of our electronic medical record. All of these have been made possible through MCIRCC.

In what ways would you like to see MCIRCC evolve?

I’m heavily involved in the P01 proposal we’ll be submitting to study ARDS next year. I think landing a major team science grant like that would be a huge win for MCIRCC and for critical care research at Michigan.

Beyond that, I think a rich ICU biorepository could transform the way we study critical illness. We are already capturing enormous data on all of our ICU patients. Imagine what we could accomplish if we could tie that data to longitudinal biospecimens. If we want to catch up with the cardiologists, we need our own Framingham Heart Study for critical illness. I think MCIRCC is uniquely positioned to make this happen.   

What’s something interesting about you that others would otherwise not know?

I was a national champion croquet player in college.