Research: Karen K. Szumlinski
Dr. Szumlinski’s major research interest concerns the cellular mechanisms underlying the changes in brain and behaviour produced by chronic exposure to drugs of abuse, in particular psychomotor stimulants and alcohol. Current research focuses on the role of postsynaptic scaffolding proteins regulating extracellular glutamate and glutamate receptor function in drug-induced changes in brain and behaviour. Related research examines the role of postsynaptic scaffolding proteins in neuropsychiatric disorders associated with addiction, such as psychosis and depression. This research employs gene knock-out mice and adeno-associated viral vectors to examine the consequences of manipulating gene expression on the drug-induced behavioural and neurochemical phenotype of rodents. Other research concerns the regulation of forebrain glutamate transmission by ascending serotonin projections in rats and the interactions between these two neurotransmitter systems in the long-lasting behavioural consequences of chronic exposure to addictive substances. More recent research investigates the long-term behavioural and neurochemical consequences of childhood or adolescent exposure to over-the-counter stimulant drugs (e.g., ephedrine and norephedrine) on subsequent sensitivity to illicit stimulant drugs (e.g., cocaine and methamphetamine), as well as cognitive, emotional, motivational and sensorimotor processing in adulthood. The techniques employed in this laboratory include a variety of assays for undrugged and drug-induced changes in behaviour, in vivo microdialysis, Western blotting, and immunocytochemistry.
(2006-2009) U01 AA016650 “mGluR-Homer interactions in excessive drinking”