Dr. Szurszewski studies molecular, cellular and physiological processes that control gastrointestinal motility. His current research interests are in the extrinsic and intrinsic neural control mechanisms of motility, the biology of smooth muscle cells and interstitial cells of Cajal, and 3-D imaging of single enteric neurons, smooth muscle cells and interstitial cells.
Dr. Szurszewski has three major programs in his laboratory. These areas of study include:
- Cellular and molecular basis of excitability and neurohumoral regulation of smooth muscle cells and pacemaker cells of the human gastrointestinal tract.
- Molecular basis of mechanosensitivity of intestinal afferent nerves as well as on the molecular basis of visceral nociception (pain).
- Causes of motility disorders of the gastrointestinal tract seen in some diabetic patients.
Dr. Szurszewski and his colleagues use state of the art techniques including laser scanning confocal microscopy, laser capture microscopy, single ion channel recordings, electrophoresis, microarrays, real time PCK and 3D volume reconstruction of single neurons and their receptors.
This interdisciplinary research program is part of the Enteric NeuroScience Program based in the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering and the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Significance to patient care
The knowledge Dr. Szurszewski and his colleagues are gaining is used to develop new medical and surgical therapies and diagnostic tools for patients with gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, nonulcer dyspepsia, pseudo-obstruction, gastroparesis, constipation and IBD.