Robert S. Bridges
Head, Section of Neuroscience and Reproductive Biology
Director, Combined DVM/MS Program in Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Department of Biomedical Sciences
B.A. Biology - Earlham College - 1969
M.S. BioBehavioral Sciences - University of Connecticut - 1972
Ph.D. Endocrinology - University of Connecticut - 1974
Postdoctoral Fellowships - Rutgers University 1975-1977; UCLA 1977-1978
Dr. Jay Byrnes, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor
Dr. Erin Gleason, Ph.D., TEACRS Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Benjamin Nephew, Ph.D., Reseach Assistant Professor
Lindsay Carini, Sr. Research Technician
Dr. Elizabeth Byrnes, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Dr. Phyllis Mann, Ph.D., Associate Professor
General Research Interest
My laboratory's research efforts focus upon the effects of the hormones of pregnancy and lactation upon maternal behavior and the neuroendocrine events that characterize these physiological states. Specifically, the actions of the hormone prolactin and the neural prolactin system are a main subject of study. We also have a keen interest in the longer term effects of reproductive experience in female mammals upon neural processing as a model for adult neuroplasticity. Possible alterations in dopaminergic and central lactogenic receptor systems as a function of reproductive experience are studied in the context of neuroendocrine and behavioral plasticity. Another area of research explores the neurobiological events underlying the establishment and activation of maternal memory, including the roles of pregnancy, birth, and the lactational state in this process. Collaborations exist with colleagues at the University of Otago, New Zealand (neuroendocrine) and the University of Florida (fMRI studies).
Research Sponsor Interest
Federally Funded Research - NIH/NICHD; NIH/NCRR
Selected Research Projects
- "Endocrine Regulation of Maternal Behavior" This NIH funded project
examines the biological regulation of maternal behavior in mammals,
using the rat as a model. Central sites of endocrine regulation of the
onset of maternal care and neurochemical events responsible for the
maintenance and retention of maternal behavior are studied.
- "Neuroendocrine Consequences of Reproductive Experience" - This NIH
funded project examines the long-term effects of prior pregnancies and
lactations on neurochemical functions associated with behavioral and
hormonal states. A primary focus is on alterations in neural dopaminergic
function resulting from reproductive experience. Studies are conducted
using a rat model.
Research and Clinical Interests
- Surgical approaches include stereotaxic surgery and routine endocrine
- Lab techniques include radioimmunosassays for hormones, in situ hybridization
histochemistry, and immunocytochemistry for neural peptides and receptors.
- Behavioral assays include measurement of parental behavior, elevated-plus
maze, activity chambers (computerized), assessment of pain, and testing
for reproductive behaviors.
Major Specialized Equipment Items Available
Gamma counter, cryostats, microscopes, behavioral apparatus
Bridges RS, Editor, Neurobiology of the Parental Brain – Academic Press, Elsevier, 2008.
Byrnes EM, Babb JA, Bridges RS (2009) Differential expression of oestrogen receptor α following reproductive experience in young and middle-aged female rats. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 21:550-557. [PMID 19500225].
Sjoeholm A, Bridges RS, Grattan DR, Anderson GM (2011). Region, neuron and signaling pathway-specific increases in prolactin responsiveness in reproductively experienced female rats. Endocrinology 152:1979-1988. [PMID 21363933].
Bridges RS, Scanlan VF, Lee J-O, Byrnes EM (2011). Reproductive experience alters prolactin receptor expression in mammary and hepatic tissues in female rats. Biology of Reproduction 85:340-346. [PMID 21508351].
Sapsford TJ, Kokay IC, Ostberg L, Bridges RS, Grattan DR (2012). Differential sensitivity of specific neuronal populations of the rat hypothalamus to prolactin action. Journal of Comparative Neurology 520:1062-1077. [PMID 21953590].
Byrnes EM, Casey K, Bridges RS (2012). Reproductive experience modifies the effects of estrogen receptor alpha activity on anxiety-like behavior and corticotropin releasing hormone mRNA expression. Hormones and Behavior 61:44-49. [PMID 22033279].
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