Jianguo Gu

Jianguo G. Gu, M.B., Ph.D., the Edward A. Ernst, M.D. Endowed Professor in the UAB Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, is a neuroscientist with a strong record of accomplishments in neuroscience and pain research. He is the founding editor of Molecular Pain, an international scientific journal, and has served as editor-in-chief since 2004. Dr. Gu’s research focuses on mechanisms of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. His research team has made a series of important contributions to our understanding of the sensory and nociceptive system and, importantly, to the molecules that drive the system. His work has provided insights into a number of receptor families such as glutamate receptors, purinergic receptors, TRP channels and Piezo channels and their critical roles in sensory signaling and pain.

One highlight of Dr. Gu’s research career was the discovery with Professor Amy MacDermott in 1997 of synaptic role of purinergic P2X receptors in nociceptive pathway. Drs. Gu and MacDermott first identified that P2X receptors are presynaptically located at primary afferent fibers and play a critical role in modulating nociceptive transmission from the periphery to the central nervous system (Gu and MacDermott, Nature. 1997; 389, 749-753). Another important research finding made by Dr. Gu’s research team was the recent discovery of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the transduction of tactile stimuli in mammals (Ikeda et al., Cell. 2014;157, 664-75). The research shows that Piezo2 ion channels are expressed on mammalian Merkel cells and these ion channels play a key role in transducing mechanical stimuli into electric signals to initiate the sense of touch. The finding has significant implications in tactile allodynia, a pain condition induced by gentle touch, occurring under many pathological conditions including tissue inflammation and peripheral neuropathy. Research findings from Dr. Gu’s team have led a number of high impact research papers published in leading scientific journals such as Nature, Cell, and the Journal of Neuroscience. He has also published a number of invited articles, book chapters, commentary and editorials. 

Dr. Gu’s research has been well funded by federal grant agencies such as NIH (National Institutes of Health), NSF (National Science Foundation) and ONR (Office of Naval Research) since he became an independent investigator in 1998. He has currently awarded two 5-year R01 grants by NIH with a total amount of approximately $4 million to support his study on ion channel mechanisms involved in sensory transduction and pathological pain. In addition to his research efforts, an important contribution of Dr. Gu to the scientific and research community is his administration and organization work in launching and establishing the journal Molecular Pain (www.molecularpain.com) in 2004. The journal has been supported by a number of world-class pain researchers as editors and editorial board members including Drs. Min Zhuo, Amy MacDermott, Megumu Yushimura, Michael Caterina, Volker Neugebauer, Jon Levin, Stephen Waxman and many others. Dr. Gu has also been actively involved in scientific community services such as organizing international and national pain research symposiums, serving as a reviewer for NIH study sections, and being a peer reviewer for scientific journals, including the leading biological journal Cell. Under the leadership of UAB's Drs. Keith A. (Tony) Jones and Sadis Matalon and with the support of colleagues including Dr. Timothy Ness and others in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Dr. Gu is aiming to excel his research and academic work to a higher level. 

To learn more about Dr. Gu, click here.