Ru-Rong Ji

Professor in Anesthesiology
Distinguished 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


Miao, Xiuhua, Ya Huang, Teng-Teng Liu, Ran Guo, Bing Wang, Xue-Long Wang, Li-Hua Chen, Yan Zhou, Ru-Rong Ji, and Tong Liu. “TNF-α/TNFR1 Signaling is Required for the Full Expression of Acute and Chronic Itch in Mice via Peripheral and Central Mechanisms.” Neurosci Bull 34, no. 1 (February 2018): 42–53.
Chang, Wonseok, Temugin Berta, Yong Ho Kim, Sanghoon Lee, Seok-Yong Lee, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Expression and Role of Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels in Human Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons with Special Focus on Nav1.7, Species Differences, and Regulation by Paclitaxel.” Neurosci Bull 34, no. 1 (February 2018): 4–12.
Chen, Gang, Xin Luo, M Yawar Qadri, Temugin Berta, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Sex-Dependent Glial Signaling in Pathological Pain: Distinct Roles of Spinal Microglia and Astrocytes.” Neurosci Bull 34, no. 1 (February 2018): 98–108.
Zhang, Linlin, Niccolò Terrando, Zhen-Zhong Xu, Sangsu Bang, Sven-Eric Jordt, William Maixner, Charles N. Serhan, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Distinct Analgesic Actions of DHA and DHA-Derived Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators on Post-operative Pain After Bone Fracture in Mice.” Front Pharmacol 9 (2018): 412.
Stogsdill, Jeff A., Juan Ramirez, Di Liu, Yong Ho Kim, Katherine T. Baldwin, Eray Enustun, Tiffany Ejikeme, Ru-Rong Ji, and Cagla Eroglu. “Astrocytic neuroligins control astrocyte morphogenesis and synaptogenesis.” Nature 551, no. 7679 (November 8, 2017): 192–97.
Chamessian, Alexander, and Ru-Rong Ji. “A new optogenetic device for spinal cord control of pain.” Pain 158, no. 11 (November 2017): 2059–60.
Pappas, Andrea L., Alexandra L. Bey, Xiaoming Wang, Mark Rossi, Yong Ho Kim, Haidun Yan, Fiona Porkka, et al. “Deficiency of Shank2 causes mania-like behavior that responds to mood stabilizers..” Jci Insight 2, no. 20 (October 19, 2017).
Berta, Temugin, Florence E. Perrin, Marie Pertin, Raquel Tonello, Yen-Chin Liu, Alexander Chamessian, Ann C. Kato, Ru-Rong Ji, and Isabelle Decosterd. “Gene Expression Profiling of Cutaneous Injured and Non-Injured Nociceptors in SNI Animal Model of Neuropathic Pain.” Sci Rep 7, no. 1 (August 24, 2017): 9367.
Berta, Temugin, Yawar Qadri, Ping-Heng Tan, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Targeting dorsal root ganglia and primary sensory neurons for the treatment of chronic pain.” Expert Opin Ther Targets 21, no. 7 (July 2017): 695–703.
Chen, Gang, Yong Ho Kim, Hui Li, Hao Luo, Da-Lu Liu, Zhi-Jun Zhang, Mark Lay, Wonseok Chang, Yu-Qiu Zhang, and Ru-Rong Ji. “PD-L1 inhibits acute and chronic pain by suppressing nociceptive neuron activity via PD-1.” Nat Neurosci 20, no. 7 (July 2017): 917–26.