Ru-Rong Ji

Professor in Anesthesiology
Distinguished Professor of Anesthesiology, in the School of Medicine
Professor in Neurobiology
Professor in Cell Biology
Email address:

Chronic pain is a major health problem in the US, affecting 100 million Americans. The long-term goal of the lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the genesis of chronic pain and, furthermore, to develop novel pain therapeutics that can target these mechanisms. We are interested in the following questions. (1) How do neuroinflammation and activation of glial cells (microglia and astrocytes) regulate pain and spinal cord synaptic plasticity via neuro-glial and neuro-immune interactions? (2) How do secreted miRNAs regulate neuronal signaling and synaptic transmission and pain as novel neuromodulators and pain mediators? (3) How do pro-resolution lipid mediators such as resolvins and protectin control pain via GPCR and arrestin signaling? (4) Do pain and itch share similar mechanisms? (5) How does Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in primary sensory neurons regulate pain and itch? (6) How can bone marrow stem cells produce long-term pain relief via secreting anti-inflammatory and trophic factors? We employ a multidisciplinary approach that covers in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo electrophysiology, neuronal and glial cell biology, transgenic mice, and behaviors.

Education and Training

  • Chinese Academy of Sciences (China), Ph.D. 1990

Associated Faculty Labs

Department Affiliation

  • Department of Anesthesiology


Sorge, Robert E., Josiane C. S. Mapplebeck, Sarah Rosen, Simon Beggs, Sarah Taves, Jessica K. Alexander, Loren J. Martin, et al. “Different immune cells mediate mechanical pain hypersensitivity in male and female mice..” Nat Neurosci 18, no. 8 (August 2015): 1081–83.
Zhang, Tianhe C., John J. Janik, Ryan V. Peters, Gang Chen, Ru-Rong Ji, and Warren M. Grill. “Spinal sensory projection neuron responses to spinal cord stimulation are mediated by circuits beyond gate control..” J Neurophysiol 114, no. 1 (July 2015): 284–300.
Yang, Yan, Hui Li, Ting-Ting Li, Hao Luo, Xi-Yao Gu, Ning Lü, Ru-Rong Ji, and Yu-Qiu Zhang. “Delayed activation of spinal microglia contributes to the maintenance of bone cancer pain in female Wistar rats via P2X7 receptor and IL-18..” J Neurosci 35, no. 20 (May 20, 2015): 7950–63.
Loggia, Marco L., Daniel B. Chonde, Oluwaseun Akeju, Grae Arabasz, Ciprian Catana, Robert R. Edwards, Elena Hill, et al. “Evidence for brain glial activation in chronic pain patients..” Brain 138, no. Pt 3 (March 2015): 604–15.
McKelvey, Rebecca, Temugin Berta, Elizabeth Old, Ru-Rong Ji, and Maria Fitzgerald. “Neuropathic pain is constitutively suppressed in early life by anti-inflammatory neuroimmune regulation..” J Neurosci 35, no. 2 (January 14, 2015): 457–66.
Taves, Sarah, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Itch control by Toll-like receptors..” Handb Exp Pharmacol 226 (2015): 135–50.
Lu, Ying, Bao-Chun Jiang, De-Li Cao, Zhi-Jun Zhang, Xin Zhang, Ru-Rong Ji, and Yong-Jing Gao. “TRAF6 upregulation in spinal astrocytes maintains neuropathic pain by integrating TNF-α and IL-1β signaling..” Pain 155, no. 12 (December 2014): 2618–29.
Cao, De-Li, Zhi-Jun Zhang, Rou-Gang Xie, Bao-Chun Jiang, Ru-Rong Ji, and Yong-Jing Gao. “Chemokine CXCL1 enhances inflammatory pain and increases NMDA receptor activity and COX-2 expression in spinal cord neurons via activation of CXCR2..” Exp Neurol 261 (November 2014): 328–36.
Chen, Gang, Chul-Kyu Park, Rou-Gang Xie, Temugin Berta, Maiken Nedergaard, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Connexin-43 induces chemokine release from spinal cord astrocytes to maintain late-phase neuropathic pain in mice..” Brain 137, no. Pt 8 (August 2014): 2193–2209.
Ji, Ru-Rong, Zhen-Zhong Xu, and Yong-Jing Gao. “Emerging targets in neuroinflammation-driven chronic pain..” Nat Rev Drug Discov 13, no. 7 (July 2014): 533–48.