University of Illinois, ChicagoBack to Department Main page









Z. Jim Wang, Ph.D. UCSF, 1996


of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutics

Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences
Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences

Cancer Center

Contact information:

Email: click here

USPS: M/C 865, 833 S Wood Street, Chicago, IL 60612

FedEx, UPS: MBRB3320, 900 S Ashland, Chicago, IL 60607

Phone 312-996-0888, Lab 312-996-9778

Fax: 312-996-0098














Associate Editor

Life Sciences


Associate Editor

BMC Neuroscience






Research Interests

Research in Dr. Wang's laboratory concentrates on 1) understanding mechanisms of chronic pain and drug addiction, and 2) developing new pharmacological treatments for these conditions. We apply the power of neurobiology, molecular pharmacology, molecular genetics and bioinformatics, and targeted delivery in our studies. Currently, four major research directions are being pursued:






A major objective of the laboratory is to understand the mechanisms leading to chronic pain, opioid tolerance and addiction, and opioid-induced hyperalgesia. These seemingly unrelated disease states are hypothesized to share certain common underlying mechanisms. Studies are examining the role of epigenetics and phosphorylation. Another project aims to establish a cellular model to study cancer pain. More recently, we have started to examine if various protein kinases work in concert in these medical conditions (1, 2, 3).


We are also interested in developing new therapeutic targets as well as novel drugs that can be used for the treatment of pain, drug addiction and other related CNS problems. Of the focus of pain conditions are the pain in sickle cell disease, and chemotherapy-induced pain.We have an array of cellular markers and in vivo tests that can be used to study both ongoing/spontaneous pain, as well as evoked hypersensitivity to heat, cold, and mechanical stimuli.One ongoing project evaluates TRPs, including TRPV1 (receptor for capsaicin, the pungent constituent in hot pepper) and novel ligands for treating chronic pain. Other studies are identifying and charactering novel CNS-active ingredients from botanical herbs (1, 2, 3). Recently, we have identified that phenothiazine antipsychotic drugs such as trifluoperazine and haloperidol may be of use for fighting drug addiction, improving analgesic action of opioids, and directly attenuating chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.


An area often being overlooked is applying knowledge from basic research to benefit patients suffering from inadequate pain control or drug addiction. A key obstacle is the lack of a potential therapeutic agentís accessibility to intracellular targets and/or tissue/cell-specificity. A third focus in the lab is to develop nanomedicine for targeted drug delivery for pain and drug addiction. One study is testing novel nanoparticles to carry drugs across the blood brain barrier to specific neurons, and if needed, to intracellular compartments.


Finally, we are interested in understanding the molecular genetics of pain and pharmacogenetics of pain therapies (in particular opioids).We are applying the candidate gene approach to evaluate the inter-individual variability in pain and pain control by polymorphisms in neurotransmitter receptors (e.g., mu opiate receptor) and their signaling proteins (e.g., protein kinase C). Among the patient populations being studied are cancer and sickle cell patients.

















Lab Members





Xuebi Tian, MD, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow










Ying He, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow










Yan Xiang, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow










Humberto Spindola, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow










Maoxing Li, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow










Huang Fang, PhD.

Postdoctoral Fellow










Ellie Jhun

PharmD/PhD Candidate










Sam Erb, M.S.

PhD Candidate










Xiaoyu Hu

Predoctoral Student









Jonathan Nazari

Undergraduate Research Assistant















Click links below for more information if you are interested in

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Graduate Student


Undergraduate Research Assistant


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