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Joyce A. DeLeo, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Adjunct Professor of Anesthesiology
Adjunct Professor of Neurology

Pharmacology & Toxicology

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Ph.D. 1988

Neuroscience Center at Dartmouth
Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Program
Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine


Contact Information:

Dartmouth Medical School
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
7650 Remsen
Hanover NH 03755

Office: Remsen 522
Phone: 603-650-1667
Fax: 603-650-1129
Email: joyce.deleo@dartmouth.edu

Assistant: Clarissa Kellogg
Asst. Phone: 603-650-1667
Asst. Email: Clarissa.Kellogg@Dartmouth.EDU

Professional Interests:

Neuropharmacology; Neuroimmunology: Mechanisms that lead to chronic pain with a focus on spinal neuroimmune responses. Neuropharmacology; Neuroimmunology: Mechanisms that lead to chronic pain with a focus on spinal neuroimmune responses. Central neuroimmune activation and neuroinflammation play a key role in generating chronic pain. Utilization of molecular, cellular, and in vivo behavioral pharmacological approaches with the ultimate goal to develop novel, non-addictive therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of chronic neuropathic and low back pain. For more information, please visit The NeuroImmunology of Chronic Pain Laboratory.

The mission of Dr. DeLeo's laboratory is to create a better understanding of central nervous system mechanisms that lead to chronic pain including neuropathic and low back pain. This knowledge will translate into development of new, effective approaches for treatment and even prevention of these chronic pain syndromes. The pain that follows peripheral nerve or root injury is chronic and consistently refractory to available treatments and analgesics. These neuropathic and low back pain syndromes include deafferentation pain, HIV, diabetic, cancer and ischemic neuropathies, phantom limb pain, trigeminal neuralgia, postherpetic neuralgias, nerve injury caused by surgery or trauma and low back pain due to herniated discs (radicular pain). Neuropathic and radicular pain are not only chronic and intractable, but also debilitating and cause extreme physical, psychological and social distress.

Newer research directions now include mechanisms and treatment of brain tumors with particular emphasis on glial/immune/tumor interactions and the role of the microenvironment in tumor growth.

Rotations and Thesis Projects:

1) Rodent and human glial/immune cell comparisons following pro-inflammatory and pro-nociceptive stimulu.
2) Role of microglia and the microenvironment in tumor invasion and growth.
3) Role of signaling molecules including phosphatases in the resolution of acute and chronic pain.

Grant Information:

5 RO1(DA11276-09) DeLeo (PI) 7/15/97 – 5/31/11
Alternatives to Opioids for Chronic Pain: Part IV
The major goal of this project is to determine the role of proinflammatory cytokines in neuropathic pain following peripheral nerve injury.

5 RO1(AR44757-06) DeLeo (PI) 9/3/97 – 7/31/07
LBP with Radiculopathy: An Inflammatory Response
The major goals of this project are to determine the role of neuroimmune activation in low back pain associated with radiculopathy.

T32 NS051176-01A1 DeLeo (Co-Director) 07/01/06 - 06/30/11
Translational Neuroscience Postdoctoral Training Program
The major goals of this project are to provide an additional pathway so the trainees may learn necessary skills to engage in basic science research and be better prepared to facilitate research discoveries into future treatments.
Role: (Co-Director)

Role of Infiltrating CD4+ T-Lymphocytes in Neuropathic Pain
NIH KO-1 Mentored award
Mentee: Ling Cao, MD/PhD

Role of Propentofylline to module astrocytic glutamate receptors
Lab Innovation Program, Elan Pharmaceuticals

Morphine induced P2X4 receptor expression: Implications for opioid tolerance
F30 DA024933-01
Mentee: Ryan Horvath, MD/PhD candidate

Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) 7/1/01-6/30/06
Green (PI), DeLeo (Molecular Biology Core Director)
Immune Mechanisms Controlling Inflammation and Cancer
The major goals of this project are to study immune mechanisms in controlling inflammation and cancer.

Courses Taught:

Pharmacology 130: Graduate Pharmacology
Pharmacology 215: Medical Pharmacology
PEMM 124: PEMM Ethics course
Pharmacology 217: Organ-Based Pharmacology
New Directions 115: Neurosciences
PEMM 101/102: Scientific Basis of Disease I & II


Dr. DeLeo received her B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from the State University of New York at Albany in 1982. She decided to pursue a career in pharmacology and was accepted into the graduate program at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (O.U.). She did much of her pre-doctoral research at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Martinsried, W. Germany under a Fulbright scholarship investigating the effect of cerebral ischemia on an electrophysiological hippocampal slice preparation and the pharmacological intervention of in vivo ischemia. She received her Ph.D. from O.U. in January 1988 and accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University, Department of Neuroscience, where she was studying the effects of neonatal hypoxia and seizure susceptibility. She then came to Dartmouth as a post-doctoral fellow in the Anesthesia Research Laboratory and was appointed to a faculty position as Instructor of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology in July 1989.

Selected Publications:


Landry RP, Martinez E, DeLeo JA, Romero-Sandoval EA
Spinal cannabinoid receptor type 2 agonist reduces mechanical allodynia and induces mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatases in a rat model of neuropathic pain.
J Pain 2012 Sep; 13(9):836-48
PMID: 22901764

Ndong C, Landry RP, DeLeo JA, Romero-Sandoval EA
Mitogen activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 prevents the development of tactile sensitivity in a rodent model of neuropathic pain.
Mol Pain 2012 Apr 27; 8:34
PMID: 22540262

Landry RP, Jacobs VL, Romero-Sandoval EA, DeLeo JA
Propentofylline, a CNS glial modulator does not decrease pain in post-herpetic neuralgia patients: in vitro evidence for differential responses in human and rodent microglia and macrophages.
Exp Neurol 2012 Apr; 234(2):340-50
PMID: 22119425

Alkaitis MS, Solorzano C, Landry RP, Piomelli D, DeLeo JA, Romero-Sandoval EA
Evidence for a role of endocannabinoids, astrocytes and p38 phosphorylation in the resolution of postoperative pain.
PLoS One 2010 May 28; 5(5):e10891
PMID: 20531936

Romero-Sandoval EA, Horvath R, Landry RP, DeLeo JA
Cannabinoid receptor type 2 activation induces a microglial anti-inflammatory phenotype and reduces migration via MKP induction and ERK dephosphorylation.
Mol Pain 2009 May 28; 5:25
PMID: 19476641

Horvath RJ, DeLeo JA
Morphine enhances microglial migration through modulation of P2X4 receptor signaling.
J Neurosci 2009 Jan 28; 29(4):998-1005
PMID: 19176808

Horvath RJ, Nutile-McMenemy N, Alkaitis MS, Deleo JA
Differential migration, LPS-induced cytokine, chemokine, and NO expression in immortalized BV-2 and HAPI cell lines and primary microglial cultures.
J Neurochem 2008 Oct; 107(2):557-69
PMID: 18717813

Romero-Sandoval EA, Horvath RJ, DeLeo JA
Neuroimmune interactions and pain: focus on glial-modulating targets.
Curr Opin Investig Drugs 2008 Jul; 9(7):726-34
PMID: 18600578

Romero-Sandoval A, Chai N, Nutile-McMenemy N, Deleo JA
A comparison of spinal Iba1 and GFAP expression in rodent models of acute and chronic pain.
Brain Res 2008 Jul 11; 1219:116-26
PMID: 18538310

Romero-Sandoval A, Nutile-McMenemy N, DeLeo JA
Spinal microglial and perivascular cell cannabinoid receptor type 2 activation reduces behavioral hypersensitivity without tolerance after peripheral nerve injury.
Anesthesiology 2008 Apr; 108(4):722-34
PMID: 18362605