Marcin Szczot

Wallenberg Academy Fellow 2019

Medicine

Dr Marcin Szczot
National Institutes of Health

Nominated by:
Linköping University

How do the gut’s nerve cells function? 

There are more than 100 million nerve cells in the human gastrointestinal tract, but researchers know very little about how they work. Wallenberg Academy Fellow Marcin Szczot will now try to map this unexplored nerve system. One hope is to be able to contribute to a better understanding of how stomach pain arises.  

Our gastrointestinal tract is full of nerve cells that send signals, such as those for satiety and hunger. They also transmit feelings of pain in all those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, one of our most common diseases. 

The nerve system in the gut is extremely important for our well-being, but there is a lack of knowledge about how it works. Dr Marcin Szczot at the National Institutes of Health in the US has previously studied the skin’s nerve system, to try to identify the receptors on the surface of the cells that convey various sensory impressions, such as pain, pressure, cold and heat. He will now investigate whether the nerve system in the gastrointestinal tract is constructed in a similar way. His hypothesis is that the gastrointestinal tract also has a range of receptors that are activated in different ways, such as when the gut is stretched or when food substances attach to the receptors.

The project will contribute to fundamental understanding of how our nervous system works, and may also provide keys to treating IBS. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Marcin Szczot will work at Linköping University. 

Foto: Marcus Marcetic