University of Nebraska Medical Center

Steve Caplan, PhD

Vice Chair for Administration


Steve Caplan, PhD

Dr. Caplan is a recipient of the 2008 UNMC Distinguished/New Investigator Award and a 2010 recipient of the UNMC Distinguished Investigator Award. He also received UNMC's Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Graduate Students Award in 2011, and the Thomas Maciag Award in 2012, a national award for combined research excellence and mentorship. He serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Biological Chemistry and PLoS One, was a regular member of the NIH Nuclear Cytoplasmic Structure function Dynamics (NCSD) study-section (2014-2018), and previously chaired a review committee at the American Heart Association. He also serves as a member of the Public Affairs Advisory Committee (PAAC) for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and as a Science Policy Committee (SPC) member of the Federation of American Societies for experimental Biology (FASEB).


The Caplan laboratory prides itself on the success of its graduate students and lab members. Of the nine PhD students that have graduated, four have received the very top UNMC honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award for ingenuity and extensive productivity (Marko, Mahak, Sai and James). All students have graduated with a minimum of five strong publications in the course of their dissertation research, with some as many as 12 first-author papers and reviews. More importantly, Caplan laboratory alumni have made important scientific contributions that have been recognized nationally and internationally. Students from the lab have gone on to the very top laboratories at elite institutions (Harvard, Columbia, UCSD, U Michigan, NIH, etc.), have received prestigious fellowships, and have moved on to academic positions.

In our laboratory, we believe that basic research driven by curious and dedicated researchers will lead to significant biomedical discoveries. Our philosophy is that research should be driven by the questions that are asked, and not by the techniques that are commonly used. For these reasons, students in the Caplan laboratory will be exposed to a wide range of new and evolving techniques in biochemistry, molecular, structural, cell biology and biophysics, and will likely have opportunities to collaborate with multiple laboratories on campus, in the US and abroad.

Current Lab Members

  • Naava Naslavsky, PhD (Hebrew University), co-investigator.
  • Shuwei Xie, PhD (UNMC), instructor.
  • Devin Frisbee, doctoral graduate student.
  • Gunjan Misri, doctoral graduate student.
  • Bazella Ashraf, doctoral graduate student.
  • Ajay Murokonda, master's graduate student.

Student Rotation Opportunities Available

Rotation opportunities are available for highly motivated students. Contact Dr. Caplan for additional information.

The Caplan laboratory is interested in understanding the basic mechanisms and pathways that control the movement of receptors, proteins and lipids from point to point within the cell—a process known as “MEMBRANE TRAFFICKING,” or “VESICULAR TRANSPORT.”

Since our laboratory follows our discoveries wherever they lead, research in the lab has expanded to studying the actin cytoskeleton and regulation of actin polymerization, the process of cytokinesis and cell division, the study of primary cilia and their biogenesis, centrosome biology, and most recently, mitochondrial dynamics and their continual fusion and fission.

Dr. Steve Caplan in a lab with a student

Current Projects

The Caplan laboratory is interested in understanding the basic mechanisms and pathways that control the movement of receptors, proteins and lipids from point to point within the cell.