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Ru-Rong Ji

Distinguished Professor of Anesthesiology, in the School of Medicine


I have been doing neuroscience and pain research for over 25 years in multiple academic institutes, including Duke University (2012-current), Harvard Medical School (1998-2012), Johns Hopkins Medical School, Karolinska Institute, and Peking University. The long-term goal of my lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the induction and resolution of pathological pain and develop novel pain therapeutics that can target these mechanisms, with specific focus on neuroimmune interactions. We are interested in the following scientific questions. (1) How does inflammation induce and resolve pain via immune cell interaction with primary sensory neurons? (2) How does neuroinflammation drive chronic pain via activation of glial cells in the CNS (microglia and astrocytes) and PNS (satellite glial cells) and regulation of sensory neuron plasticity (peripheral sensitization) and spinal cord synaptic plasticity (central sensitization)? (3) How do specialized pro-resolution mediators (SPMs, e.g., resolvins, protectins, and maresins) control pain via GPCR signaling? (4) How do immunotherapies through the PD-L1/PD-1 and STING/IFN pathways regulate pain, cognition, and neuronal activities? (5) How do secreted miRNAs regulate pain and itch via direct activation of surface receptors and ion channels? (6) How do nerve terminals interact with cancers in chronic pain and itch? (7) How do Toll-like receptors (TLR) in primary sensory neurons sense danger signals and regulate pain and itch? (8) How do regenerative approaches such as autologous conditioned serum (ACS) and bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs) produce long-term pain relief via secreting anti-inflammatory factors and exosomes? We employ a multidisciplinary approach that covers in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo studies for animal behaviors, electrophysiology, molecular biology, cell biology, and transgenic animals. We have identified numerous therapeutic targets and filed many patents for translational studies. As the Director of the Center for Translational Pain Medicine (CTPM) and a highly cited researcher (Cross Field, Clarivate), I have both administrative and scientific leadership for successful completion of many research projects. 

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Distinguished Professor of Anesthesiology, in the School of Medicine · 2012 - Present Anesthesiology, Clinical Science Departments
Professor in Anesthesiology · 2012 - Present Anesthesiology, Clinical Science Departments
Professor in Neurobiology · 2012 - Present Neurobiology, Basic Science Departments
Professor in Cell Biology · 2018 - Present Cell Biology, Basic Science Departments

Education, Training & Certifications

Chinese Academy of Sciences (China) · 1990 Ph.D.