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


Doyle, Jamie R., Subrahmanian T. Krishnaji, Guangli Zhu, Zhen-Zhong Xu, Daniel Heller, Ru-Rong Ji, Bruce D. Levy, Krishna Kumar, and Alan S. Kopin. “Development of a membrane-anchored chemerin receptor agonist as a novel modulator of allergic airway inflammation and neuropathic pain..” J Biol Chem 289, no. 19 (May 9, 2014): 13385–96.
Park, Chul-Kyu, Zhen-Zhong Xu, Temugin Berta, Qingjian Han, Gang Chen, Xing-Jun Liu, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Extracellular microRNAs activate nociceptor neurons to elicit pain via TLR7 and TRPA1..” Neuron 82, no. 1 (April 2, 2014): 47–54.
Xu, Z. Z., and R. R. Ji. “Protection of neuropathic pain by pro-resolution lipid mediators.” In Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 9:60–61. SPRINGER, 2014.
Berta, Temugin, Chul-Kyu Park, Zhen-Zhong Xu, Ruo-Gang Xie, Tong Liu, Ning Lü, Yen-Chin Liu, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Extracellular caspase-6 drives murine inflammatory pain via microglial TNF-α secretion..” J Clin Invest 124, no. 3 (March 2014): 1173–86.
Liu, X. J., Y. Zhang, T. Liu, Z. Z. Xu, C. K. Park, T. Berta, D. Jiang, and R. R. Ji. “Nociceptive neurons regulate innate and adaptive immunity and neuropathic pain through MyD88 adapter.” Cell Research 24, no. 11 (January 1, 2014): 1374–77.
Lee, J. -. H., C. -. K. Park, G. Chen, Q. Han, R. -. G. Xie, T. Liu, R. -. R. Ji, and S. -. Y. Lee. “A Monoclonal Antibody that Targets a NaV1.7 Channel Voltage Sensor for Pain and Itch Relief.” Cell, 2014.
Ji, Ru-Rong, Temugin Berta, and Maiken Nedergaard. “Glia and pain: is chronic pain a gliopathy?.” Pain 154 Suppl 1 (December 2013): S10–28.
Liu, Tong, and Ru-Rong Ji. “New insights into the mechanisms of itch: are pain and itch controlled by distinct mechanisms?.” Pflugers Arch 465, no. 12 (December 2013): 1671–85.
Zhang, Zhi-Jun, De-Li Cao, Xin Zhang, Ru-Rong Ji, and Yong-Jing Gao. “Chemokine contribution to neuropathic pain: respective induction of CXCL1 and CXCR2 in spinal cord astrocytes and neurons..” Pain 154, no. 10 (October 2013): 2185–97.
Berta, T., Y. -. C. Liu, Z. -. Z. Xu, and R. -. R. Ji. “Tissue plasminogen activator contributes to morphine tolerance and induces mechanical allodynia via astrocytic IL-1β and ERK signaling in the spinal cord of mice..” Neuroscience 247 (September 5, 2013): 376–85.