The James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy welcomes Assistant Professor Jianxiong Jiang, PhD...
What is your academic background?
I received an MS in biochemistry and molecular biology from the East China University of Science & Technology. I then spent five years in the pharmaceutical industry as a project supervisor in R&D. Realizing that I could not further advance my research career without a doctoral degree, I came to the United States and completed the PhD program in cellular and molecular biosciences in Dr. Marie Wooten’s laboratory at Auburn University. Right after that I received six years of postdoctoral training in neuropharmacology with Dr. Ray Dingledine at Emory University. I recently joined the University of Cincinnati (UC) as an assistant professor.
What are your roles at the college?
Like any other tenure-track faculty, my roles at the College of Pharmacy overall fall into three categories, i.e., research, teaching and service. My long-term goals as a researcher are to elucidate neuronal signaling events that contribute to brain inflammation and injury, and to develop novel therapeutics that confer neuroprotection and reduce brain injury-related functional deficits. As a scientific educator, I am eager to train graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and to teach courses to graduate and pharmacy students in my research areas including neuroscience and molecular pharmacology. I am also enthusiastic about participating in various service activities including admissions interviews, community services, college committees, university-wide services, etc.
What is your research specialty and how did you choose it?
After obtaining my PhD in basic neuroscience, I decided to focus my research on some prevalent neurological disorders associated with chronic injuries, which led to my current interests in epilepsy. As the third most prevalent brain disorder, epilepsy affects about 3 million Americans, including virtually half a million children, and results in an estimated annual health care cost of $17.6 billion. There are about 150,000 cases of epilepsy annually diagnosed in the U.S., mostly in children and the elderly. In addition, children with epilepsy have higher risks of mental co-morbidities such as depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Current antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) can dampen seizures quickly, but also cause a broad spectrum of side effects and lack efficacy in about 30 percent of epilepsy patients. In addition, no current drug has been shown to prevent epileptogenesis, i.e., the development of epilepsy after acute brain insults. Identifying new drug targets and developing novel therapies are urgently needed to achieve the ultimate goal of "no seizures, no side effects, no co-morbidities” in the management of epilepsy. I am fascinated by the opportunities in both basic and translational research to battle epilepsy.
What research projects are you working on?
My research interest has been to understand whether and how prolonged seizure-induced inflammatory storm in the brain contributes to neuronal injuries, structural brain changes, spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRSs), and subsequent behavioral abnormalities. My research is currently funded by an NIH/NINDS Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) and an NARSAD Young Investigator Grant. Much awaits to be done to better understand the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying epilepsy and psychiatric comorbidities, e.g., depression and anxiety. I am very glad that I can advance these critical studies at UC.
How did you come to UC?
The UC Academic Health Center and the affiliated Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center provide an outstanding epilepsy research community with many world-renowned basic neuroscientists and clinicians. I have personally interacted with several of them during the American Epilepsy Society annual meetings and other events in the field. Their information and advice played a significant role in my decision to join UC. I believe that the rich resources and dynamic collaborative research environment of UC will nurture my research career, which will be continuously devoted to understanding the neurological and psychiatric conditions from molecular and cellular to systems level, and ultimately moving novel discoveries in the brain from bench to bedside.
What are your interests outside of work?
In my "free time” I enjoy playing with my two little girls and watching them enjoy my cooking. I also like to swim, play tennis with my wife and enjoy watching Auburn football games. War Eagle!