Itch was actually defined by a German physician more than 350 years ago as an unpleasant sensation that makes people want to scratch. Although this is a very simple definition, itch is really a very complex sensory modality. There are acute and chronic forms of itch. Majority of chronic itch cannot be treated effectively by antihistamines. My laboratory is interested in identifying and characterizing novel itch receptors and itch mediators which mediating histamine-independent itch and their roles in chronic itch. We are also interested in neural coding of itch and pain. The results from these studies will help us develop novel anti-chronic itch drugs.
Xinzhong Dong is an associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and also an Early Career Scientists of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received his PhD degree from University of California Los Angeles and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at California Institute of Technology. In 2004, Dr. Dong started his own laboratory at Johns Hopkins University where they have been taken a multi-disciplinary approach including molecular biology, genetics, electrophysiology, imaging, behavioral tests, and biochemistry to study different types of somatosensation such as pain and itch. His major contribution to the sensory biology field includes identification of molecular markers to define specific subtypes of sensory neurons, identification of novel itch receptors, itch mediators, and itch nerve fibers, and characterization of pain modulators. He has won several awards and fellowships including Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow. His works are supported by funding from National Institute of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and other private foundations. Learn more about Dr. Dong