Photo of Elinor L Sullivan, Ph.D.

Elinor L Sullivan Ph.D.

    • Associate Professor Oregon National Primate Research Center
    • Associate Professor of Psychiatry School of Medicine

Dr. Sullivan received her Ph.D. in Physiology from OHSU in 2000 and her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Willamette University. She received her postdoctoral training at the University of California San Francisco and OHSU. Dr. Sullivan is currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, and in the Department of Human Physiology at the University of Oregon. Dr. Sullivan is actively involved in training future scientists through her teaching and mentoring of University of Oregon graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Sullivan’s research examines the impact of maternal nutrition and metabolic state on the behavioral regulation and brain development of offspring.

Areas of interest

  • Behavioral Regulation
  • Brain Development
  • Developmental Programming
  • Maternal Nutrition
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Serotonin


  • B.A., Willamette University, Salem Oregon United States 2000
  • B.A., Willamette University 2000
  • Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University 2006
  • Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Oregon United States 2006

Honors and awards

  • May 2016 Outstanding Scholarship Award, University of Portland
  • November 2015 Authored manuscript “Maternal High-Fat Diet and Obesity Impact Palatable Food Intake and Dopamine Signaling in Nonhuman Primate Offspring” selected as one of the top four entries to be included in the Third Annual Obesity Journal Symposium.
  • January 2015 Provost’s Initiative for Undergraduate Research Award - ($1,000) University of Portland.
  • November 2014 The Impact of Maternal Diet on Offspring Behavioral Regulation, Butine, $1,166.00
  • May 2010 Award for Best Post-Doctoral Talk. Oregon Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience.
  • July 2009 Pat Simons Travel Award Grant to attend the Annual Meeting of The Obesity Society. The Obesity Society.
  • October 2008 Travel Award to attend NIH’s Neuroimaging in Obesity Research Workshop. National Institute of Health
  • May 2008 Award for Top-Ranked Post-Doctoral Fellowship of 2007. Bay Area Division of the American Heart Association.
  • September 2006 Stipend support from Molecular Approaches to Mental Health Fellowship Program, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.
  • May 2006 Award for best poster presentation at the Student Research Forum, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR.
  • April 2006 Travel award to attend Annual Meeting of the Oregon Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. Oregon Chapter of Society for Neuroscience.
  • November 2005 Nominated to the American Association for the Advancement of Science/Science Program for Excellence in Science.
  • May 2005 Stipend support from Reproductive Training Grant, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR.
  • April 2004 Travel award to attend Annual Meeting of the Oregon Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. Oregon Chapter of Society for Neuroscience.


Selected publications

  • Thompson JR, Gustafsson HC, DeCapo M, Bagley J, Dean T, Takahashi D, Kievit P, Sullivan EL. Western Diet, Metabolic State, and Inflammation: Modeling developmental influences on offspring behavior in non-human primates. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 2018 April 23. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2018.00161.

  • Thompson JR, Valleau JC, Barling AN, Franco JG, DeCapo M, Bagley JL, Sullivan EL. Exposure to a High-Fat Diet during Early Development Programs Behavior and Impairs the Central Serotonergic System in Juvenile Non-Human Primates. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017 Jul 21;8:164. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2017.00164. eCollection 2017. PubMed PMID: 28785241; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5519527. 

  • Rivera HM, Kievit P, Kirigiti MA, Bauman LA, Baquero K, Blundell P, Dean TA, Valleau JC, Takahashi DL, Frazee T, Douville L, Majer J, Smith MS, Grove KL, Sullivan EL. Maternal high-fat diet and obesity impact palatable food intake and dopamine signaling in nonhuman primate offspring. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Nov;23(11):2157-64. doi: 10.1002/oby.21306. PubMed PMID: 26530932; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4636015.

  • Sullivan EL, Holton KF, Nousen EK, Barling AN, Sullivan CA, Propper CB, Nigg JT. Early identification of ADHD risk via infant temperament and emotion regulation: a pilot study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2015 Sep;56(9):949-57. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12426. Epub 2015 May 12. PubMed PMID: 25968589.


  • "Selective estrogen receptor modulator promotes weight loss in ovariectomized female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) by decreasing food intake and increasing activity" American Journal of Physiology - Renal Fluid and Electrolyte Physiology April 1 2012
  • "Maternal high fat diet consumption during the perinatal period programs offspring behavior" Physiology and Behavior January 17 2014
  • "Relevance of animal models to human eating disorders and obesity" Psychopharmacology August 2008
  • "The role of maternal obesity in the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders" Frontiers in Neuroscience  2015
  • "Perinatal exposure to high-fat diet programs energy balance, metabolism and behavior in adulthood" Neuroendocrinology February 2011
  • "Enhanced food anticipatory activity associated with enhanced activation of extrahypothalamic neural pathways in serotonin2C receptor null mutant mice" PLoS One  2010
  • "Physical activity of adult female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) across the menstrual cycle" American Journal of Physiology - Renal Fluid and Electrolyte Physiology June 2007
  • "Molecular correlates of spontaneous activity in non-human primates" Journal of Neural Transmission - Parkinson's Disease and Dementia Section December 2010
  • "Chronic consumption of a high-fat diet during pregnancy causes perturbations in the serotonergic system and increased anxiety-like behavior in nonhuman primate offspring" Journal of Neuroscience March 10 2010
  • "Deletion of Mecp2 in Sim1-Expressing Neurons Reveals a Critical Role for MeCP2 in Feeding Behavior, Aggression, and the Response to Stress" Neuron September 25 2008
  • "Evidence in female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatto) that nighttime caloric intake is not associated with weight gain" Obesity  2005
  • "Early identification of ADHD risk via infant temperament and emotion regulation" Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines September 1 2015
  • "Behaviors in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) associated with activity counts measured by accelerometer" American Journal of Primatology February 2008
  • "A rapidly occurring compensatory decrease in physical activity counteracts diet-induced weight loss in female monkeys" American Journal of Physiology - Renal Fluid and Electrolyte Physiology April 2010
  • "Individual differences in physical activity are closely associated with changes in body weight in adult female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)" American Journal of Physiology - Renal Fluid and Electrolyte Physiology  2006
  • "Metabolic imprinting in obesity"  December 10 2009
  • "Maternal high-fat diet and obesity impact palatable food intake and dopamine signaling in nonhuman primate offspring" Obesity November 1 2015
  • "The impact of leptin on perinatal development and psychopathology" Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy November 1 2014
  • "In vivo effect of PC-SPES on prostate growth and hepatic CYP3A expression in rats" Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics July 1 2003
  • "Maternal high fat diet programming of the endocrine system" Journal of Physiology November 2012
  • "Unraveling the mechanisms responsible for the comorbidity between metabolic syndrome and mental health disorders" Neuroendocrinology  2014
  • "Maternal high-fat diet programming of the neuroendocrine system and behavior" Hormones and Behavior November 1 2015
  • "Genomic Variants Associated with Resistance to High Fat Diet Induced Obesity in a Primate Model" Scientific Reports November 4 2016
  • "Maternal prepregnancy body mass index and offspring attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder" Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines March 1 2017
  • "Exposure to a high-fat diet during early development programs behavior and impairs the central serotonergic system in juvenile non-human primates" Frontiers in Endocrinology July 21 2017
  • "Maternal and postnatal high-fat diet consumption programs energy balance and hypothalamic melanocortin signaling in nonhuman primate offspring" American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology August 14 2017
  • "Adverse Placental Perfusion and Pregnancy Outcomes in a New Nonhuman Primate Model of Gestational Protein Restriction" Reproductive Sciences January 1 2018
  • "Gadolinium chelate safety in pregnancy" Radiology January 1 2018
  • "Objectively measured physical activity and C-reactive protein" Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports April 1 2013
  • "Delineating the Macroscale Areal Organization of the Macaque Cortex In Vivo" Cell Reports April 10 2018

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