Skip to main content

Rui-Xin Zhang, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:

Family & Community Medicine


MSTF, 685 W. Baltimore Street, Room 8-23A

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-1582


(410) 706-1583

Education and Training

  • Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, Bachelor of Medicine, 1984
  • Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, Master of Physiology, 1987
  • Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, PhD of Physiology, 1991
  • Visiting Fellow (Fogarty International Center), NIH, NIDR, Bethesda, MD, Neuroscience, 1996
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, CT, Neuroscience, 2000


Dr. Zhang has used behavioral, pharmacological, biochemical, immunohistochemical and optogenetic approaches to study pain mechanisms and acupuncture mechanisms in animal models of inflammatory, neuropathic and bone cancer pain. His research demonstrates that electroacupuncture not only modulates central neurons but also modulates the neurons-astrocytes interaction to inhibit pain. Dr. Zhang was first to report electroacupuncture intervention activates the nervous system differently during persistent pain than in normal health, suggesting that neural-plasticity changes its response to external stimulation. He was first to demonstrate that electroacupuncture significantly inhibits the affective component of pain. He recently investigated the effects and mechanisms of social interactions and support on pain in rat pain model. His research publications include 5 book chapters on pain and alternative medicine and 68 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals. He serves as an editorial board member for 10 medical journals.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Pain, inflammatory pain, Pain affect, pain mechanisms, Acupuncture, Electroacupuncture, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Highlighted Publications

  1. Lao, L., Zhang, R.-X., Zhang, G., Wang, X., Berman, B.M., Ren, K. A parametric study of electroacupuncture on persistent hyperalgesia and Fos protein expression in rats. Brain Research. 2004:1020:18-29.
  2. Zhang, R.-X., Liu, B., Wang, L., Ren, K., Qiao, J.-T., Berman, B.M., Lao, L. Spinal glial activation in a new rat model of bone cancer pain produced by prostate cancer cell inoculation of the tibia. Pain. 2005:118:125-136.
  3. Zhang, R.-X., Li, A., Liu, B., Wang, L., Ren, K., Zhang, H., Berman, B.M., Lao, L. IL-1ra alleviates inflammatory hyperalgesia through preventing phosphorylation of NMDA receptor NR-1 subunit in rats. Pain. 2008:135:232-239.
  4. Zhang, Y., Meng, X., Li, A., Xin, J., Berman, B.M., Lao, L., Tan, M., Ren, K., Zhang, R.-X. Electroacupuncture alleviates affective pain in an inflammatory pain rat model. European Journal of Pain. 2012:16:170-81.
  5. Zhang, R.-X., Lao, L., Ren, K., Berman, B.M. Mechanisms of acupuncture-electroacupuncture on persistent pain. Anesthesiology, 2014:120:482-503.

Previous Positions

  • Instructor, Department of Physiology, Shanxi Medical University, China, 1987-1993
  • Research Associate, Complementary Medicine Program, University of Maryland, School of Medicine, 2001-2002