Elinor Sullivan

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Physiology
Member, ION

Ph.D. Oregon Health and Science University

Lab Website
Phone: 485-215-0227


Research Interests: 


Elinor Sullivan’s teaching focus is in the areas of nutrition, endocrinology, and neurobiology.

Dr. Sullivan’s research focuses on examining the influence of maternal metabolic state and dietary environment on offspring behavioral regulation, with an emphasis on behaviors that relate to mental health and behavioral disorders including autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and depression.

Her areas of expertise include behavioral neuroscience, with training and expertise in human and nonhuman primate behavior, brain development, developmental programming, maternal nutrition, and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Sullivan received her Ph.D. in Physiology from Oregon Health and Science University. She received her postdoctoral training at the University of California San Francisco and Oregon Health and Science University. Prior to coming to the University of Oregon, Dr. Sullivan was an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Portland. Dr. Sullivan is currently an Assistant Professor in the Divisions of Neuroscience and Cardiometabolic health at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. She joined the UO Department of Human Physiology in 2017.

Dr. Sullivan has received research grants from the National Institute of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Murdock Charitable Trust, and the Obesity Society.


Related Articles

Maternal prenatal depression predicts infant negative affect via maternal inflammatory cytokine levels.

Brain Behav Immun. 2018 10;73:470-481

Authors: Gustafsson HC, Sullivan EL, Nousen EK, Sullivan CA, Huang E, Rincon M, Nigg JT, Loftis JM

Maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy are associated with risk for offspring emotional and behavioral problems, but the mechanisms by which this association occurs are not known. Infant elevated negative affect (increased crying, irritability, fearfulness, etc.) is a key risk factor for future psychopathology, so understanding its determinants has prevention and early intervention potential. An understudied yet promising hypothesis is that maternal mood affects infant mood via maternal prenatal inflammatory mechanisms, but this has not been prospectively examined in humans. Using data from a pilot study of women followed from the second trimester of pregnancy through six months postpartum (N = 68) our goal was to initiate a prospective study as to whether maternal inflammatory cytokines mediate the association between maternal depressive symptoms and infant offspring negative affect. The study sample was designed to examine a broad range of likely self-regulation and mood-regulation problems in offspring; to that end we over-selected women with a family history or their own history of elevated symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Results supported the hypothesis: maternal pro-inflammatory cytokines during the third trimester (indexed using a latent variable that included plasma interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 concentrations as indicators) mediated the effect, such that higher maternal depressive symptoms were associated with higher maternal inflammation, and this mediated the effect on maternal report of infant negative affect (controlling for maternal affect during the infant period). This is the first human study to demonstrate that maternal inflammatory cytokines mediate the association between prenatal depression and infant outcomes, and the first to demonstrate a biological mechanism through which depressive symptoms impact infant temperament.

PMID: 29920327 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Related Articles

An Open Resource for Non-human Primate Imaging.

Neuron. 2018 10 10;100(1):61-74.e2

Authors: Milham MP, Ai L, Koo B, Xu T, Amiez C, Balezeau F, Baxter MG, Blezer ELA, Brochier T, Chen A, Croxson PL, Damatac CG, Dehaene S, Everling S, Fair DA, Fleysher L, Freiwald W, Froudist-Walsh S, Griffiths TD, Guedj C, Hadj-Bouziane F, Ben Hamed S, Harel N, Hiba B, Jarraya B, Jung B, Kastner S, Klink PC, Kwok SC, Laland KN, Leopold DA, Lindenfors P, Mars RB, Menon RS, Messinger A, Meunier M, Mok K, Morrison JH, Nacef J, Nagy J, Rios MO, Petkov CI, Pinsk M, Poirier C, Procyk E, Rajimehr R, Reader SM, Roelfsema PR, Rudko DA, Rushworth MFS, Russ BE, Sallet J, Schmid MC, Schwiedrzik CM, Seidlitz J, Sein J, Shmuel A, Sullivan EL, Ungerleider L, Thiele A, Todorov OS, Tsao D, Wang Z, Wilson CRE, Yacoub E, Ye FQ, Zarco W, Zhou YD, Margulies DS, Schroeder CE

Non-human primate neuroimaging is a rapidly growing area of research that promises to transform and scale translational and cross-species comparative neuroscience. Unfortunately, the technological and methodological advances of the past two decades have outpaced the accrual of data, which is particularly challenging given the relatively few centers that have the necessary facilities and capabilities. The PRIMatE Data Exchange (PRIME-DE) addresses this challenge by aggregating independently acquired non-human primate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) datasets and openly sharing them via the International Neuroimaging Data-sharing Initiative (INDI). Here, we present the rationale, design, and procedures for the PRIME-DE consortium, as well as the initial release, consisting of 25 independent data collections aggregated across 22 sites (total = 217 non-human primates). We also outline the unique pitfalls and challenges that should be considered in the analysis of non-human primate MRI datasets, including providing automated quality assessment of the contributed datasets.

PMID: 30269990 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Related Articles

Neuroinflammation as a risk factor for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2019 May 16;:

Authors: Dunn GA, Nigg JT, Sullivan EL

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a persistent, and impairing pediatric-onset neurodevelopmental condition. Its high prevalence, and recurrent controversy over its widespread identification and treatment, drive strong interest in its etiology and mechanisms. Emerging evidence for a role for neuroinflammation in ADHD pathophysiology is of great interest. This evidence includes 1) the above-chance comorbidity of ADHD with inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, 2) initial studies indicating an association with ADHD and increased serum cytokines, 3) preliminary evidence from genetic studies demonstrating associations between polymorphisms in genes associated with inflammatory pathways and ADHD, 4) emerging evidence that early life exposure to environmental factors may increase risk for ADHD via an inflammatory mechanism, and 5) mechanistic evidence from animal models of maternal immune activation documenting behavioral and neural outcomes consistent with ADHD. Prenatal exposure to inflammation is associated with changes in offspring brain development including reductions in cortical gray matter volume and the volume of certain cortical areas -parallel to observations associated with ADHD. Alterations in neurotransmitter systems, including the dopaminergic, serotonergic and glutamatergic systems, are observed in ADHD populations. Animal models provide strong evidence that development and function of these neurotransmitters systems are sensitive to exposure to in utero inflammation. In summary, accumulating evidence from human studies and animal models, while still incomplete, support a potential role for neuroinflammation in the pathophysiology of ADHD. Confirmation of this association and the underlying mechanisms have become valuable targets for research. If confirmed, such a picture may be important in opening new intervention routes.

PMID: 31103523 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]