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


Martini, Alessandra Cadete, Temugin Berta, Stefânia Forner, Gang Chen, Allisson Freire Bento, Ru-Rong Ji, and Giles Alexander Rae. “Lipoxin A4 inhibits microglial activation and reduces neuroinflammation and neuropathic pain after spinal cord hemisection.” J Neuroinflammation 13, no. 1 (April 8, 2016): 75.
Liu, Tong, Qingjian Han, Gang Chen, Ya Huang, Lin-Xia Zhao, Temugin Berta, Yong-Jing Gao, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Toll-like receptor 4 contributes to chronic itch, alloknesis, and spinal astrocyte activation in male mice.” Pain 157, no. 4 (April 2016): 806–17.
Huh, Y., G. Chen, and R. Ji. “(416) Intrathecally injected bone marrow stromal cells produce sustained neuropathic pain reduction in paclitaxel-treated mice.” In The Journal of Pain, 17:S78–S78. Elsevier BV, 2016.
Jiang, Bao-Chun, De-Li Cao, Xin Zhang, Zhi-Jun Zhang, Li-Na He, Chun-Hua Li, Wen-Wen Zhang, et al. “CXCL13 drives spinal astrocyte activation and neuropathic pain via CXCR5.” J Clin Invest 126, no. 2 (February 2016): 745–61.
Singh, Sandeep K., Jeff A. Stogsdill, Nisha S. Pulimood, Hayley Dingsdale, Yong Ho Kim, Louis-Jan Pilaz, Il Hwan Kim, et al. “Astrocytes Assemble Thalamocortical Synapses by Bridging NRX1α and NL1 via Hevin.” Cell 164, no. 1–2 (January 14, 2016): 183–96.
Ji, Ru-Rong. “Neuroimmune interactions in itch: Do chronic itch, chronic pain, and chronic cough share similar mechanisms?” Pulm Pharmacol Ther 35 (December 2015): 81–86.
Xu, Zhen-Zhong, Yong Ho Kim, Sangsu Bang, Yi Zhang, Temugin Berta, Fan Wang, Seog Bae Oh, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Inhibition of mechanical allodynia in neuropathic pain by TLR5-mediated A-fiber blockade.” Nat Med 21, no. 11 (November 2015): 1326–31.
Chen, Gang, Chul-Kyu Park, Rou-Gang Xie, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Intrathecal bone marrow stromal cells inhibit neuropathic pain via TGF-β secretion.” J Clin Invest 125, no. 8 (August 3, 2015): 3226–40.
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.