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Confocal microscope images of fluorecently labeled mammalian cells taken by undergraduate biology students in Dr. Pollock's lab

Dr. John Archie Pollock is currently a Full Professor of Biological Sciences at Duquesne University. As an educator, he teaches courses in his expertise including neuroscience, microscopy, molecular and cellular biology. His outreach teaching has included working with informal science education in museums and for broadcast television. As a scientist, Dr. Pollock has spent over 30 years as a principal investigator directing a continuously funded research program in basic science investigating the development of the nervous system. He is also studying chronic pain and associated changes in gene expression. He received his Bachelor of Science in physics and also completed a major in philosophy at Syracuse University. He then earned a Master's of Science in physics, as well as his Doctor of Philosophy in biophysics, also from Syracuse University. In order to study in the laboratory of Prof. Seymour Benzer, a pioneer in neuro-genetic and behavioral research, Dr. Pollock moved to Caltech in Pasadena, California. From Caltech, he moved to Carnegie Mellon University to serve as Assistant and then Associate Professor of Biology for 12 years before joining Duquesne University in 2001.

Dr. Pollock is co-director and partnering principal investigator for the Chronic Pain Research Consortium at Duquesne University. This research collaborative is engaging faculty distributed between several colleges and schools at Duquesne University to focus on the study of chronic pain from fundamental biology to clinical training.

In addition to conducting research and teaching, Dr. Pollock has served as founding director for the Partnership in Education, which produces multimedia based informal science education projects that are artistically rich STEM learning resources including videos, Emmy Award® winning TV shows, award winning Apps, videogames and teaching resources for young people and the general public.

An advocate for his students, he has helped several students find creative career paths. In part, because of this extensive and diverse mentoring, he received national recognition and was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation (class of 2015) awarded in 2018. Among other recognitions, Dr. Pollock is recipient of the Carnegie Science Award - Special Achievement in Education (2011), selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator by the Apple Corporation (2017) and elected to rank of Fellow by the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, 2018).

The funding for this work has come from four separate Science Education Partnership Awards from the National Institutes of Health, which have provided support from 2000-2024. Additional support for science education has come from the US Department of Education, the Hillman Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, UPMC Health Plan, and The John Templeton Foundation, among others.


  • Ph.D., Biophysics, Syracuse University, 1984
  • M.S., Physics, Syracuse University, 1983
  • B.S., Physics, Syracuse University, 1978

Research Interests

My research is focused on the basic biology of the nervous system and is currently exploring chronic pain. Since the 1980s, I explored the development of nerve cells using a wide range of experimental approaches and techniques.

New research directions include the analysis of TRP (calcium channel) in the context of a rat chronic pain model. The extensive family of TRP related proteins are intimately involved in pain physiology. As Co-Director of the Chronic Pain Research Consortium, I am collaborating with Dr. Jelena Janjc (School of Pharmacy). We are using small animal imaging to co-localize the immune system response to chronic pain and changes in TRP expression through the use of theranostic nanoparticles. We can visualize changes in neuroinflammation in live animals and also use the nanoparticles as a targeted drug delivery mechanism to provide long-lasting pain relief from micro-dose of medicine. Video abstract

Profile Information

Achievements & Accomplishments

  • Science Educator Award, Society for Neuroscience & Dana Foundation. Honoring neuroscientists who devotes his/her time primarily to research while making significant contributions to educating the public about neuroscience
  • 2020 International Serious Play Silver Medal in the category of US & Canada K-12 STEM Education. For the table top board game YOU MAKE ME SICK, where players fight 11 common infectious diseases including COVID19, while learning about the functions of the immune system.
  • 2018 AAAS Fellow - American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2018 Presidential Award - National Science Foundation & White HouseAwarded for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring
  • Pictured below: Dr. John Pollock and his Presidential Award
  • a picture of John pollock
  • 2018 Presidential Award - Duquesne University Awarded for Faculty Excellence in Service to the Mission
  • 2018 Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Award
    Awarded for Faculty Excellence in Service to the Mission
  • 2018 Parents' Choice Award ‘Recommended' to J. Pollock for mobile app REBOUND: BEATING CONCUSSION
  • 2017 Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Award
    Awarded for Faculty Excellence in Scholarship
  • 2017 Apple Award for Distinguished Educator
  • TEDx Talk: TEDxYouth@SquirrelHill "STORY" (Published Nov 16, 2016)
    Dr. John Archie Pollock. "Human evolution and the unique abilities that humans have to tell stories through technology, art, literature and now through videos, apps and ebooks."
  • "Pollock to Discuss the Importance of Storytelling in Learning Science at TEDxYouth Conference" -- Published in the Duquesne University Times
  • 2016 CITYHACKS: IN SEARCH OF SLEEP (a Bibliotech eBook)
  • - WINNER OF International Serious Play Competition Bronze Honors 2016
    - Parents' Choice Award ‘Recommended'
  • 2016 Parents' Choice Award ‘Recommended' to J. Pollock for mobile app DARWIN SYNTHETIC INTERVIEW
  • 2015 Emmy® Award for Children/Youth/Teen - Program or Special to Scientastic! "ARE YOU SLEEPING?" John Pollock, Executive Producer from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Mid-Atlantic Chapter)
  • 2015 Emmy® Award for Musical Composition/Arrangement to Scientastic! "ARE YOU SLEEPING?" John Pollock, Executive Producer from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Mid-Atlantic Chapter)
  • Pictured below: Dr. John Pollock and his two Emmy Awards
    a picture of john pollock receiving an award
  • 2014 Inaugural Provost's Interdisciplinary Research Consortia Grant (John Pollock & Jelena Janjic Co-investigators)
  • 2013 Duquesne University President's Award for Excellence in Teaching
    Awarded in recognition of extraordinary service rendered
  • 2013 Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Award
    Awarded for Faculty Excellence in Teaching
  • Carnegie Science Award 2011
    Special Recognition in Science Education
  • 2010 Duquesne University Research Hall of Fame
  • Deal B, Reynolds LM, Patterson C, Janjic JM, Pollock JA. Behavioral and inflammatory sex differences revealed by celecoxib nanotherapeutic treatment of peripheral neuroinflammation. Scientific Reports (Nature Portfolio) 2022;12(1):8472. 
  • A. 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.
  • 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.
  • A. Stevens, L. Liu, B. Deal, D. Bertovich, J. M. Janjic, J. A. 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.
  • M. Saleem, A. Stevens, B. Deal, E. Nehl, J. M. Janjic, J. A. 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.
  • B. Kantorski, C. W. Sanford-Dolly, D.R. Commisso, J. A. Pollock (2019) Backward design as a mobile application development strategy. Educational Tech Research Dev. 67: 711 On-line April 8, 2019.
  • M. Saleem, A. Stevens, B. Deal, L. Liu, J. M. Janjic, J. A. Pollock (2019) A new best practice for validating tail vein injections in rat with near infrared labeled agents. JoVE - J. Vis. Exp., e59295.
  • J. M. Janjic, K. Vasudeva, M. Saleem, A. Stevens, L. Liu, S. Patel, J. A. Pollock (2018) Low-dose NSAIDs reduce pain via targeted nanoemulsion delivery to neuroinflammation in Rat. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 318, 72-79. 
  • Lampe, David J; Kantorski, Brinley; Pollock, John A. (2018) Charles Darwin Synthetic Interview. Journal of STEM Outreach, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, Jan. 2018.
  • Vasudeva K, Vodovotz , Azhar N, Barclay D, Janjic JM, Pollock JA (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 K, Andersen K, Zeyzus-Johns B, Hitchens TK, Patel SK, Balducci A, Janjic JM, Pollock JA (2014) Imaging Neuroinflammation In Vivo in a Neuropathic Pain Rat Model with Near-Infrared Fluorescence and 19F Magnetic Resonance. PLoS ONE 9(2): e90589. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090589
  • S. K. Patel, M. J. Patrick, J. A. Pollock, J. M. Janjic (2013) Two-color fluorescent (near-infrared and visible) triphasic perfluorocarbon nanoemuslions. J. Biomed. Opt. 18 (10), 101312 (August 02, 2013); doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.18.10.101312
  • Jelena M. Janjic, Sravan K. Patel, Michael J. Patrick, John A. Pollock, Erin DiVito, Michael Cascio. Proceedings Article | February 21, 2013:
  • Suppressing inflammation from inside out with novel NIR visible perfluorocarbon nanotheranostics. Proc. SPIE. 8596, Reporters, Markers, Dyes, Nanoparticles, and Molecular Probes for Biomedical Applications V 85960L (February 21, 2013) doi: 10.1117/12.2004625
  • Patel SK, Zhang Y, Pollock JA, Janjic JM (2013) Cyclooxgenase-2 Inhibiting Perfluoropoly (Ethylene Glycol) Ether Theranostic Nanoemulsions–In Vitro Study. PLoS ONE 8(2): e55802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055802
  • 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:21943030
  • 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. Download from Leonardo Journal
  • J. Ricou, D. Commisso, L. Gonzalez, J. A. Pollock (2011) The Evolution Of Evolution: The Tree, The Spiral And The Web of Life, International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Volume 2, Issue 4, 554 - 557. Download
  • K. Lawrence, C. Stilley, J.A. Pollock, D. Webber, E. Quivers (2011) A family-centered educational program to promote independence in pediatric heart transplant recipients. Progress in Transplantation, Vol 21. March 2011. Download
  • N.A. Siddall, G.R. Hime, J.A. Pollock, P. Batterham (2009) Ttk69-dependent regulation of lozenge expression is necessary for correct R7 differentiation in the developing eye of Drosophila melanogaster. Biomed Central: Developmental Biology Dec 9; 9:64.
  • J.P. McKay, B. Nightingale and J.A. Pollock (2008) Helmsman is expressed in both trachea and Photoreceptor development; partial inactivation alters trachea morphology and visually guided behavior. Journal of Neurogenetics, Apr-Jun;22(2):1. Download
  • S. Sethi, W. Adams, J.A. Pollock and P.A. Witt-Enderby (2008) C-terminal domains within human MT(1) and MT(2) melatonin receptors are involved in internalization processes. J Pineal Res. 2008 Mar 13. Download
  • K. Behan, J. Fair, S. Singh, M. Bogwitz, T. Perry, V. Grubor, F. Cunningham, C. Nichols, T. Cheung, P. Batterham and J.A. Pollock (2005) Alternative splicing removes an Ets interaction domain from Lozenge during Drosophila eye development. Dev Genes Evol. 215:423-435.Download
  • N. Siddall, K.J. Behan, N., J.R. Crew, T.L. Cheung, J.A. Fair, P. Batterham, and J.A. Pollock (2003) Mutations in lozenge and D-Pax2 invoke ectopic patterned cell death in the developing Drosophila eye using distinct mechanisms. Dev Genes Evol 213:107-119. Download
  • K.J. Behan, C.D. Nichols, T. L. Cheung, A. Farlow, B. M. Hogan P. Batterham and JA Pollock (2002) Yan regulates Lozenge during Drosophila eye development. Dev Genes Evol, 212:267-276. Download
  • J.R. Crew, P. Batterham, and J.A. Pollock (1997) Developing compound eye in lozenge mutants of Drosophila: lozenge expression in the R7 equivalence group. Development Genes and Evolution 206, 481-493. Download
  • B. Gillo, I. Chorna, H. Cohen, B. Cook, I. Manistersky, O. 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 Ca 2+ entry similar to the light-activated conductance. PNAS USA 93, 14146-14151. Download
  • M. E. Martone, J. A. Pollock, Y. Yhang, Y. and M. H. Ellisman (1996) Ultrastructural localization of dendritic messenger RNA in adult rat hippocampus. J. Neuroscience 16: 7437-7446.Download
  • J.A. Pollock, A. Asaf, A. Peretz, C. Nichols, M.H. Mojet, R.C. Hardie and B. Minke (1995) TRP, a protein essential for inositide-mediated Ca2+ influx is localized adjacent to the calcium stores in Drosophila photoreceptors. J. Neurosci. 15, 3747 3760. Download
  • R. C. Hardie, A. Peretz, J. A. Pollock, B. Minke (1993) Ca2+ Limits the Development of the Light Response in Drosophila Photoreceptors. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B.252, 223-229.
  • B. Rudy, C. Kentros, M. Weiser, D. Fruhling, P. Serodio, E. Vega-Saenz de Miera, M. H. Ellisman, J. A. Pollock, H. Baker (1992) Region-Specific Expression of a K+ channel gene in Brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 89, 4603 - 4607.
  • D. R. Hyde, K. L. Mecklenburg, J. A. Pollock, T. Vihtelic, Seymour Benzer (1990) Twenty Drosophila Visual System cDNA Clones: One Is A Homologue Of Human Arrestin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 87, 1008-1012.
  • J.A. Pollock and Seymour Benzer (1988) Transcript Localization of Four Opsin Genes In the Three Visual Organs in Drosophila; RH2 is Ocellus Specific. Nature 333, 779-782.
  • U. Banerjee, P. J. Renfranz, J. A. Pollock, Seymour Benzer (1987) Molecular Characterization and Expression of sevenless, a Gene Involved in Neural Pattern Formation in the Drosophila Eye. Cell 49, 281-291.

My research creates new multimedia learning resources that focus on fundamental principles of science and health literacy, and then explores how people learn from these new resources.

As Director of the Partnership in Education I strive to create a strong and accessible scientific dialogue between the research community and the general public and classrooms. To achieve this, I create informal science education pieces for use in museums including planetariums shows, exhibits, interactive media, iOS/Android app and supporting teacher resource materials. Research evaluates how effective the new learning tools are as well as how people learn. Topics have included tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and the fundamental principles of evolution. Collaborative partners have included the Carnegie Science Center, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, The National Aviary, The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public School, and American Philosophical Society Museum-Philadelphia.

I have also created a children's television show called Scientastic! Scientastic has been broadcast on public television stations nationwide winning two EMMY® AWARDS.

The award winning BiblioTech series with Adaptive reader technology now has four titles on topics that include sleep, sports related concussion, liver transplants. New titles in development will explore common day to day stress, anxiety and pain to reveal the underlying biology and ways to manage each for children in late elementary school and middle school.

Project funding has come from Science Education Partnership Awards from the National Institutes of Health, and from the US Department of Education, the Hillman Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and UPMC Health Plan, among others.

  • BIOL 475/575 Neurobiology
  • BIOL 376/576 Capstone VI: Microscopy