John A. Pollock, PhD

Dr. John Pollock is the Full Professor of Biological Science at Duquesne University.

Dr. Pollock graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in Physics with a second major in Philosophy, continuing his studies to earn a MS Physics and his PhD in Biophysics also at Syracuse University. He did his post-doctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied the molecular neurogenetics of the developing eye and brain.

Dr. Pollock’s current research involves identifying genes involved in neural development, perception, and pain sensation. To do this he studies behavior, expression profiling, molecular cell biology, and uses advanced microscopy. He is also collaborating with Jelena Janjic, Ph.D., using dual labeled nanoparticles, which permit the tagging of circulating monocytes and macrophages. These labeled cells aggregate at the site of neuroinflammation and can be combined with behavioral and molecular approaches to place these observations in the context of the molecular cascade that facilitates changes associated with the transition from acute to chronic pain. We find that celecoxib can relieve neuroinflammatory hypersensitivity with ultra-low dose as compared to oral therapy. However, we find that while females develop pain on the same time course and same degree as males, the same nanotherapeutic only provides an attenuated relief as compared to males; indicating that pain and pain-relief processing is sexually dimorphic.  In this capacity, Dr. Pollock also serves as the Co-Director of the Duquesne University Chronic Pain Research Consortium.

In addition to his research, Dr. Pollock has taken a leadership role as Director of the Partnership in Education and has created several related informal science education projects including films for young people and the general public. Other projects have celebrated Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and involved a multi-year and city-wide partnership with several museums. Among the exhibits developed was the Darwin Synthetic Interview, which is now available as an award-winning app for iOS and Android devices. Dr. Pollock has also produced two Scientastic! television shows, “Sticks & Stones” about broken bones and also “Are you sleeping?” about sleep.  The sleep show went on to win two regional Emmy® Awards; both shows are now available on Amazon, iTunes and GooglePlay.  Dr. Pollock has also produced award winning iOS/Android apps including Powers of Minus Ten – Bone, CITYHACKS: In Search of Sleep, REBOUND: Beating Concussion, and the health literacy apps for pediatric liver transplant patients – Jadyn’s Journey to Health and Sierra’s Journey to Health. His latest projects include, YOU MAKE ME SICK a table-top game about infectious disease including COVID-19, an immune system app on acne called Dermis Defense, and a growing series on infographics called interFACTives on stress and anxiety complemented with a collection of YouTube videos on stress management.

Dr. Pollock received Carnegie Science Award, Special Achievement in Education in 2011 for his work in science and health literacy education.  Dr. Pollock is recipient of the three separate Bayer School of Science Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Excellence in Scholarship and Excellence in Service to the Mission. He has also been awarded the Duquesne University Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching as well as Excellence in Service to the Mission.  Named an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2017, by the Apple Corporation, he was also elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2018.  In part, because of his extensive and diverse mentoring, he received national recognition and was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation, class of 2015.  In 2020, he received the Science Educator award from the Society for Neuroscience / Dana Foundation. Dr. Pollock is engaged in community service and among other activities is a Trustee and member of the Board for the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Some of Dr. Pollock’s selected publications include:

  • Deal, L.M. Reynolds, C.J. Patterson, J. Janjic, J. A. Pollock (2022) Behavioral and inflammatory sex differences revealed by celecoxib nanotherapeutic treatment of peripheral neuroinflammation.Scientific Reports (Nature Portfolio) 12, 8472 (2022).
  • M. Janjic, M. Balogh, S.K.R. Adena, A. Fitzpatrick, J. A. Pollock, V. Gorantla, A. J. Shepherd (2021) Targeted Imaging and Therapeutic Technologies in Neuro-regeneration. Chapter 6. In Reconstructive Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine: Emerging Interface/CRC Press.
  • Stevens, M. Saleem, J. M. Janjic, J. A. Pollock (2020) Targeted COX-2 inhibiting nanomedicine results in pain-relief and differential expression of the RNA transcriptome in the dorsal root ganglia of injured male rats. Molecular Pain 16, 1-19.
  • Stevens, Liu, Deal, Bertovich, Janjic, Pollock (2019) Differential expression of neuroinflammatory mRNAs in the rat sciatic nerve following chronic constriction injury and pain-relieving nanoemulsion NSAID delivery to infiltrating macrophages. Int J Mol Sci Oct 24; 20(21) pii: E5269. doi: 10.3390/ijms20215269.
  • Saleem, Stevens, Deal, Nehl, Janjic, Pollock (2019) Nanomedicine-driven neuropathic pain relief in a rat model is associated with macrophage polarity and mast cell activation. Acta Neuropathologica Communications 7:108.
  • Saleem, Stevens, Deal, Liu, Janjic, Pollock (2019) A new best practice for validating tail vein injections in rat with near infrared labeled agents. JoVE, e59295.
  • Janjic, Vasudeva, Saleem, Stevens, Liu, Patel, Pollock (2018) Low-dose NSAIDs reduce pain via macrophage targeted nanoemulsion delivery to neuroinflammation of the sciatic nerve in rat.  Journal of Neuroimmunology, 318, 72-79.
  • Kolber, Janjic, Pollock, Tidgewell (2016). The Pain Undergraduate Research Experience: Interacting with community partners to build a specialized and enhanced biomedical research program. BMC Medical Education 2016 May 4;16(1):135. doi: 10.1186/s12909-016-0648-7 PMID: 27142616
  • Vasudeva, Vodovotz, Azhar, Barclay, Janjic, Pollock (2015) In Vivo and Systems Biology Studies Implicate IL-18 as a Central Mediator in Chronic Pain. Journal of Neuroimmunology, doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2015.04.012.
  • Vasudeva, Andersen, Zeyzus-Johns, Patel, Hitchens, Janjic, Pollock (2014) Neuroinflammation In Vivo in a Neuropathic Pain Rat Model with Near-Infrared Fluorescence and 19F Magnetic Resonance. PLoS ONE 9(2): e90589.
  • Patel, Zhang, Pollock, Janjic (2013) Cyclooxgenase-2 Inhibiting Perfluoropoly (Ethylene Glycol) Ether Theranostic Nanoemulsions—In Vitro Study. PLoS ONE 8(2): e55802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055802.
  • B. Gillo, I. Chorna, H. Cohen, B. Cook, I.  Manistersky, 0. Devary, A. Arnon, A. Baumann, U. B. Kaupp, J. A. Pollock, Z. Selinger and B. Minke. (1996).  Co-expression of Drosophila TRP and TRPL in Xenopus oocytes reconstitutes a capacitative Ca2+ entry similar to the light-activated conductance.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 93, 14146-14151.

Education/STEM Education/Health Literacy

  • B. Kantorski, D.R. Commisso, C. W. Sanford-Dolly, J. A. Pollock (2020) The Use of a Mobile Application to Teach Concussion-Related Health Knowledge. Journal of STEM Outreach, v3. Published on-line May 7, 2020. doi: 10.15695/jstem/v3i1.05
  • B. Kantorski, C. W. Sanford-Dolly, J. A. Pollock (2019) Backward design as a mobile application development strategy. Educational Tech Research Dev. 67: 711.
  • D. J. Lampe, B. Kantorski, J. A. Pollock (2018) Charles Darwin Synthetic Interview: A 19th Century Scientist Speaks in the 21st Century Journal of STEM Outreach, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, Jan. 2018
  • A. Wilson, L. Gonzalez, J. A. Pollock (2012) Evaluating learning and attitudes on tissue engineering: A study of children viewing animated digital dome shows detailing the biomedicine of tissue engineering. Tissue Engineering (Part A), vol 18, no. 5 576-586. PMID:
  • J. Ricou, J. A. Pollock (2012) The Tree, The Spiral and The Web of Life: A Visual Exploration. Leonardo Journal Volume 45, No. 1, 18-25. ‘Featured Article’ (STEM Education/Digital Media)
  • K. Lawrence, C. Stilley, J.A. Pollock, D. Webber, E. Quivers (2011) Promoting Independence and Adherence in Pediatric Heart Transplantation. Progress in Transplantation, vol. 21, 1, pg. 61-66.

Read more about Dr. Pollock here.