CV for Dr. Ji-Sheng Han (Narative)

Prof. Han was born in 1928 in Hangzhou, a beautiful city in south China. He finished his medical training in Shanghai Medical College (1947-1952), and specialized as a physiologist in Dalian Medical College (1952-1953). He started his teaching and research career on medical physiology in Harbin Medical University (1953), and was appointed as a lecturer of physiology in the Beijing college of Traditional Chinese Medicine (1961). He joined Beijing Medical University in 1962, and was appointed as a full professor of physiology (1979-), Director of the Department of Physiology (1983-1993), then Director of Neuroscience Research Institute, and Director of the Key Laboratory of Neuroscience Research under the auspice of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, People’s Republic of China (1993-). In the same year of 1993, Professor Han was elected a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the highest honor for scientists in China.

Research Field:

Professor Han has been engaged in the research of basic mechanisms of acupuncture therapy since 1965, a research project assigned by late Zhou En-Lai, the premier of the People’s Republic of China. After a thorough investigation of the phenomena of acupuncture-induced analgesia in humans and in animal models, he started to study its neurochemical mechanisms. He discovered that serotonin (5-HT) and opioid peptides (endorphins) are the two main chemical substances mediating acupuncture analgesic effect. He also found that each mediator has its counterparts playing an opposite role to keep a physiologic balance. For example, nor-epinephrine in the brain works against serotonin in terms of pain control, whereas the neuropeptide known as CCK (cholecystokinin) shows an anti-opioid effect in the whole central nervous system. He was the first to find the functional balance between opioid peptides and the anti-opioid peptides (CCK and some other peptides with anti-opioid activity) that determines the efficacy of acupuncture analgesia in different individuals. These findings agree with the ancient oriental philosophy of Yin and Yang balance. In an invited article for Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Professor Han in collaboration with professor Lars Terenius in Sweden, summarized his findings and the world advances of acupuncture research in 1982 (22:193-220).

In his attempt to find the most efficacious method for stimulation of acupuncture points, Professor Han compared the effects induced by manual twisting of the needle (manual needling), electrical stimulation via the inserted needles (electroacupuncture, EA) and electrical stimulation via skin pads placed on top of the acupoints (transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation), and discovered that the most important determinant of acupuncture effect is the frequency of impulses transmitted along the nerve fibers from periphery to central nervous system. Signals of different frequencies can induce the release of different kinds of chemical mediators. This led to the hypothesis of “frequency-dependent release of neuropeptides in central nervous system”. Further studies revealed that signals induced by low- and high- frequency peripheral stimulations are transmitted along different neural pathways. All these findings resulted in the design and manufacturing of a device named “Han’s acupoint nerve stimulator” (HANS), which has been used extensively for treatment of both acute and chronic pain. The main points of these discoveries have been summarized in an article entitled “Acupuncture: neuropeptide release produced by electrical stimulation of different frequencies” published in the January issue of 2003 of “Trends in Neuroscience” (26:17-22).

In later years, Professor Han has put considerable efforts on acupuncture treatment of heroin addiction using HANS as the major therapeutic measures, supplemented by a small dose of pharmacological agents when necessary. For the treatment of acute syndrome of heroin withdrawal, HANS can take care of 50% to 90% of the withdrawal symptoms. However, the most striking effect of HANS is not on the treatment of withdrawal syndrome, but to reduce or eliminate the craving for heroin. After the completion of detoxification period, a patient is discharged with a pocket sized portable device of HANS. A patient is instructed to perform self-treatment with the device provided whenever craving attacks. In 20 minutes the craving either disappears or dramatically diminishes, and one can continue normal life without the threat of going back to drug. The success rate of keeping drug free for more than one year without any pharmacological interventions has reached 20% to 32%, a level never attained before. Some of the results have been presented in a chapter by Professor Han in the 4th edition of the comprehensive text book of “Substance Abuse” edited by Joyce Lowinson et al, Williams and Wilkins, 2004. The 5th edition is on its way of printing.

Professor Han published more than 400 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. His laboratory has produced a total of 80 Ph.D., 28 M.S. and 17 post-doctoral scientists, as well as more than 80 research fellows.

Professor Han is the founder and the President of the Chinese Association of the Study of Pain (CASP, China chapter of the International Association for the Study of Pain, IASP) since 1989, the founder of the Beijing Society for Neuroscience (1995), Co-founders and Deputy President of the Chinese Society for Neuroscience (1994-1999). He is the editor-in-chief of two journals, “Progress in Physiological Sciences” (1986-) and “Chinese Journal of Pain Medicine” (1995-). Six books were edited, including <Principals of Neuroscience>, the first comprehensive Neuroscience textbook in China (First edition in 1993, second edition in 1999, third edition in 2008), and <The Neurochemical Basis of Acupuncture Analgesia> in English (Vol. 1 in 1987, Vol. 2 in 1998, volume 3 in 2008).

Professor Han has been invited to give more than 200 lectures in 26 Countries and areas, and in major acupuncture congresses around the world. He was the first plenary speaker on acupuncture mechanisms in the historical Consensus Conference on “Acupuncture” (1997, Bethesda) sponsored by NIH, USA., the first plenary speaker for acupuncture mechanisms in the 12th World Congress of Pharmacology (1994, Montreal) sponsored by the International Union of Pharmacology (IUPHAR), and the first plenary speaker in 13th World Congress of Pain (2010, Montreal) sponsored by the international association for the study of pain (IASP).

His research activities have been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC), the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China. He has also been the grantee (PI) of NIH, USA for the study of “neurobiology of acupuncture analgesia” for 12 consecutive years (1987-2000).

Selected Publications:

1.         Han JS, Terenius L. Neurochemical basis of acupuncture analgesia. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology. 1982; 22: 193-220 (cited 274)

2.         Han, J.S. and Xie, C.W. Dynorphin - potent analgesic effect in spinal-cord of the rat. Life Sciences, 1982; 31 (16-1), 1781-1784. (cited 97)

3.         Han, J.S., Ding, X.Z. and Fan, S.G. Cholecystokinin Octapeptide (CCK-8) - Antagonism to Electroacupuncture Analgesia and A Possible Role in Electroacupuncture Tolerance. 1986; Pain, 27 (1), 101-115. (cited 75)

4.         Han, J.S., Chen, X.H., Sun, S.L., Xu, X.J., Yuan, Y., Yan, S.C., Hao, J.X. and Terenius, L. Effect of Low-Frequency and High-Frequency TENS on Met-Enkephalin-Arg-Phe and Dynorphin-A Immunoreactivity in Human Lumbar CSF. Pain, 1991, 47 (3), 295-298. (cited 154)

5.         Zhou, Y., Sun, Y.H., Zhang, Z.W. and Han, J.S. Increased Release of Immunoreactive Cholecystokinin Octapeptide by Morphine and Potentiation of Mu-Opioid Analgesia by CCK(B)-Receptor Antagonist L-365, 260 in Rat Spinal-Cord. European Journal of Pharmacology, 1993; 234 (2-3), 147-154. (cited 86)

6.         Xu, W., Qiu, X.C. and Han, J.S. Serotonin Receptor Subtypes in Spinal Antinociception in the Rat. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 1994; 269 (3), 1182-1189. (cited 74)

7.         Han JS. Acupuncture activates endogenous system of analgesia. “NIH Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture”, sponsored by Office of Alternative Medicine and Office of Medical Application of Research, Nov 3-5, 1997, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA, pp 55-60.

8.         Tian, J.H., Xu, W., Fang, Y., Mogil, J.S., Grisel, J.E., Grandy, D.K. and Han, J.S. Bidirectional modulatory effect of orphanin FQ on morphine-induced analgesia: Antagonism in brain and potentiation in spinal cord of the rat. British Journal of Pharmacology, 1997, 120 (4), 676-680. (cited 171)

9.         Han, J.S. Acupuncture: neuropeptide release produced by electrical stimulation of different frequencies. Trends in Neurosciences, 2003, 26 (1), 17-22. (cited 144)

10.     Han, J.S. Acupuncture and endorphins. Neuroscience Letters, 2004; 361 (1-3), 258-261. (cited 95)