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Luo Lab

Luo Lab

Luo Scientific Photo

Luo Scientific Photo

Luo Scientific Photo

Z. David Luo, MD, PhD

Professor of Anesthesiology
Professor of Pharmacology
PhD, 1993, Biochemical Pharmacology, State University of New York, Buffalo
MD, 1984, China

Summary of Research: Dr. Luo's research interest focuses on molecular mechanisms of chronic pain. Prolonged physiological or pathological changes in the central and peripheral nervous systems cause persistent pain states that are difficult to manage clinically.

Target specific and safe drugs are not available for chronic pain management due to the fact that mechanisms underlying chronic pain are largely unknown. A large body of evidence suggests that altered expression of genes that encode functional proteins such as neurotransmitters, receptors, ion channels and intracellular second messengers are an important component in neuronal plasticity that leads to pain transduction. 

Our research team uses three approaches to identify target genes that are involved in the development and maintenance of abnormal sensations. First, we use gene chip analysis to compare gene expression profiles in spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia between control and experimental tissue samples to identify genes that may be molecular determinants of a specific chronic pain state and serve as a target for the development of more specific and safer analgesics. 

Our second approach is to study how changes in target gene expression contribute to abnormal sensation. Briefly, we use techniques of behavioral pharmacology, cellular and molecular biology and immunohistochemistry to study how injury induces changes in target gene expression, and how these changes contribute to spinal sensitization, a central mechanism of chronic pain. 

Finally, we use pharmacological agents and molecular biology approaches such as transgenic or knockout mice to validate the causal roles of the target gene and related pathways in chronic pain development. Genes under investigations currently include those encoding ion channel proteins, neurotransmitters and proteins with novel functions.

The Lab Personnel:

Clinical Observers:

  • Young-Soon Choi, MD/PhD
  • Jun Zeng, MD
Specialists:
  • Cheul-Hong Kim, MD/PhD
  • Bin Lin, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholars:
  • Kang-Wu Li, MD/PhD
Laboratory Assistants:
  • Donghyun John Kim, BS
Graduate Student Researcher: Technologies & Research Capabilities
  • Model systems
  • Behavioral pharmacology
  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Immunohistochemistry