Tales from the lab -- Dr. Caplan publishes 'LABLIT' novel

by Nicole Lindquist, UNMC public relations | January 06, 2011

Already a prolific researcher, UNMC's Steve Caplan, Ph.D., can now add the title "fiction author" to his resume.

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Steve Caplan, Ph.D.
Dr. Caplan, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, recently published his first novel, titled "Matter Over Mind."

The book is part of a growing genre of fiction known as "LABLIT," which features realistic stories of laboratory scientists.

The book's hero, Dr. Steve Miller, is a 38-year old researcher who struggles for tenure while seeking a cure for manic-depressive bipolar disorder and balance in his life.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., Dr. Caplan will sign copies of his book at The Bookworm at 8702 Pacific St., and on Tuesday, Jan. 25, he will read from and discuss his book at Talent Tuesday.

Below, he chats with UNMC Today about "Matter over Mind."

Learn more and buy the book

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Learn more about Dr. Caplan's "Matter Over Mind" and buy the book at www.stevecaplan.net.

Preview the book online.

Who should read this book?

I think anyone with even a peripheral interest in biomedical research will find the portrayal of a real-life scientist interesting. However, one doesn't have to be a scientist to empathize with the protagonist and appreciate the story and humor in the novel. It deals with depression and bipolar syndrome, so anyone with a passing interest in those mental illnesses is likely to find the book worth reading.

What inspired you to write it?

About 13 years ago when I was a graduate student, I went through a very hectic period when I wrote several papers and reviews before succumbing to the flu. I was home for a whole week and during that week the novel was born. Sadly, there is a lack of serious novels featuring real-life scientists as main characters. My hope is to fill this niche.

How much is it based on true life?

Despite the protagonist sharing his name with me, I was a graduate student when I wrote the book. Yet, the hero is a 38-year old assistant professor vying for tenure. So obviously I had to glimpse into the future and imagine what things might be like 10 years later. Many people who read the novel think they recognize certain characters, which means I have invented realistic ones. But yes, elements from my own life and experiences -- sometimes second or third-hand -- have certainly been an inspiration for the novel.

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Myron Toews
January 09, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Let's hope the book is not SO good that we lose Steve as a lab researcher so that he can write novels full-time. We need good reading and his good writing, but we need his good science too!

Dr. Caplan Fan.
January 06, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Dr. Caplan is a very well known investigator in the field of Cell Biology. This novel is another good example of Dr. Caplan's writing skills. I highly recommend this novel to everyone.

Amit Tuli
January 06, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Dr. Caplan is a well-respected scientist in the cell biology field, and a great teacher too. This novel is another good example of how talented Dr. Caplan is. I look forward to his second novel.

Robin Zagurski
January 06, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Just downloaded it on Kindle, I'm looking forward to reading it!

Catherine Murari
January 06, 2011 at 11:11 AM

I think Dr Caplan is an amazing researcher, an even amazing teacher and this just adds another feather to his cap! Looking forward to reading it! :)

Fran Higgins
January 06, 2011 at 8:41 AM

Sounds awesome. Can't wait to read it!