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


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.
Xu, Zhen-Zhong, Xing-Jun Liu, Temugin Berta, Chul-Kyu Park, Ning Lü, Charles N. Serhan, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Neuroprotectin/protectin D1 protects against neuropathic pain in mice after nerve trauma.” Ann Neurol 74, no. 3 (September 2013): 490–95.
Lu, Yan, Hailong Dong, Yandong Gao, Yuanyuan Gong, Yingna Ren, Nan Gu, Shudi Zhou, et al. “A feed-forward spinal cord glycinergic neural circuit gates mechanical allodynia.” J Clin Invest 123, no. 9 (September 2013): 4050–62.
Pagadala, Promila, Chul-Kyu Park, Sangsu Bang, Zheng-Zhong Xu, Rou-Gang Xie, Tong Liu, Bao-Xia Han, W Daniel Tracey, Fan Wang, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Loss of NR1 subunit of NMDARs in primary sensory neurons leads to hyperexcitability and pain hypersensitivity: involvement of Ca(2+)-activated small conductance potassium channels.” J Neurosci 33, no. 33 (August 14, 2013): 13425–30.
Xu, Zhen-Zhong, Temugin Berta, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Resolvin E1 inhibits neuropathic pain and spinal cord microglial activation following peripheral nerve injury.” J Neuroimmune Pharmacol 8, no. 1 (March 2013): 37–41.
Chi-Fei Wang, Jeffrey, Ching-Hsia Hung, Peter Gerner, Ru-Rong Ji, and Gary R. Strichartz. “The Qualitative Hyperalgesia Profile: A New Metric to Assess Chronic Post-Thoracotomy Pain.” Open Pain J 6 (2013): 190–98.
Taves, Sarah, Temugin Berta, Gang Chen, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Microglia and spinal cord synaptic plasticity in persistent pain.” Neural Plast 2013 (2013): 753656.
Chen, Michael J., Benjamin Kress, Xiaoning Han, Katherine Moll, Weiguo Peng, Ru-Rong Ji, and Maiken Nedergaard. “Astrocytic CX43 hemichannels and gap junctions play a crucial role in development of chronic neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury.” Glia 60, no. 11 (November 2012): 1660–70.
Liu, Tong, Temugin Berta, Zhen-Zhong Xu, Chul-Kyu Park, Ling Zhang, Ning Lü, Qin Liu, et al. “TLR3 deficiency impairs spinal cord synaptic transmission, central sensitization, and pruritus in mice.” J Clin Invest 122, no. 6 (June 2012): 2195–2207.
Sisignano, Marco, Chul-Kyu Park, Carlo Angioni, Dong Dong Zhang, Christian von Hehn, Enrique J. Cobos, Nader Ghasemlou, et al. “5,6-EET is released upon neuronal activity and induces mechanical pain hypersensitivity via TRPA1 on central afferent terminals.” J Neurosci 32, no. 18 (May 2, 2012): 6364–72.