MCIRCC Associate Director Scott VanEpps, M.D., Ph.D., FACEP has been named a Taubman Emerging Scholar effective September 1, 2019, through a gift to the institute from philanthropists Leslie and Abigail Wexner. The grant is given to support early-career physician-scientists at the assistant professor level. 

Dr. VanEpps is an assistant professor in Emergency Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Macromolecular Science and Engineering. And he is also an investigator for the Biointerfaces Institute and an associate director at MCIRCC.

The honor includes an award of $200,000 over five years to be used towards ongoing projects in his lab

The Taubman Institute was established in 2007 through a gift from Mr. Taubman, to support physican-researchers on the U-M Medical School faculty with unrestricted financial grants, mentoring and other programs.

With A. Alfred Taubman’s goal to advance “high risk, high reward” science, VanEpps is a natural fit as a Taubman Institute Emerging Scholar. He specifically aligned himself with MCIRCC because he believes that hard problems can’t be solved alone in a vacuum and have to be cross-disciplinary.

“Collaborations are hard to do. We all speak English but not the same language,” said VanEpps. “My advice to others is to find friends who do something very different from what you do but are like-minded in the pursuit of solving the problem. It seems riskier but in the end gives a new way to approach a problem.”

His current projects include research into life-threatening infections connected to implantable medical devices, rapid diagnostics for bloodstream infection, and novel treatment strategies including nanorod based PCR assay to detect bacteria in whole blood without culture.

What’s next for VanEpps’ research? He aims to partner with people who are thinking about sepsis diagnostics. He has found that when he is not collaborating he is further away from a solution.

“The answer to sepsis is to diagnose it like cancer but with much less time – within minutes and hours, not days and weeks.”

When asked how he stays driven, VanEpps said, “I get to learn new stuff all the time. I didn’t get my first real job until I was 35 because I kept going to school. I pursued Emergency Medicine because it’s broad.” He also mentioned his collaborations as fuel. “I like to meet with folks who are doing cutting edge stuff that potentially has nothing to do with medicine but can be applied to the medical field. Working with others in the lab allows me to ‘feed someone’ who is eager and learn new things in return, too.”