Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Elizabeth McCone Byrnes

Associate Professor

Section of Neuroscience and Reproductive Biology

Campus Phone:



  • BA - University of Massachusetts at Boston - 1991
  • PhD - The Ohio State University - 1995
  1. Nephew BC, Byrnes EM, Bridges (2010) Vasopressin mediates enhanced offspring protection in multiparous rats. Neuropharmacology, 58, 102-106.
  2. Byrnes JJ, Babb JA, Scanlan VF, Byrnes, EM. (2011) Adolescent opioid exposure in female rats: Transgenerational effects on morphine analgesia and anxiety-like behavior in adult. Behavioural Brain Research, 218, 200-205.
  3. Bridges RS, Scanlan VF, Lee J, and Byrnes EM (2011) Reproductive Experience Alters Prolactin Receptor Expression in Mammary and Hepatic Tissues in Female Rats. Biology of Reproduction, DOI biolreprod.111.091918.
  4. Johnson NL, Schenk, ME, Carini L, Stewart M, Byrnes EM (2011) Adolescent opiate exposure in the female rat induces subtle alterations in maternal care and transgenerational effects on play behavior. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2 (29), 1-10.
  5. Byrnes, JJ., Gleason, ED., Schoen, MT., Lovelock, DR., Carini, LM., Byrnes, EM., Bridges, RS. (2011). Accelerated Maternal Responding Following Intra-VTA Pertussis Toxin Treatment. Behavioral Brain Research 223(2):322-328.
  6. Byrnes EM. (2005) Transgenerational consequences of adolescent morphine exposure in female rats: Effects on anxiety-like behaviors and morphine sensitization in adult offspring. Psychopharmacology 182(4):537-544.
  7. Byrnes EM and Bridges RS. (2006) Reproductive experience alters anxiety-like behavior in the female rat. Hormones and Behavior, 50:70-76.
  8. Bridges RS, Byrnes EM. (2006) Reproductive experience reduces circulating estradiol-17β and prolactin levels during proestrus and alters estrogen sensitivity in female rats. Endocrinology 147:2575-2582
  9. Byrnes EM, Bridges RS. (2006) Reproductive experience reduces the sedative, but not the anxiolytic effects of diazepam. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 31: 988-996.
  10. Byrnes EM, Bridges RS, Scanlan VF, Babb J, Byrnes JJ. (2006) Sensorimotor gating and dopamine function in postpartum rats. Neuropsychopharmacology, advance online publication, October 18, 2006 (doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1301222).

General Research Interests

  • Neuroendrocrinology
  • Maternal behavior
  • Animal models of drug abuse

Selected Research Projects

  • How Motherhood Changes the Brain - This project examines the long term changes in the brain following pregnancy. One of the primary focus areas is the formation of memories that increase the female's motivation to behave maternally toward foster young. Specific alterations in the brain in conjunction with behavioral changes are explored.
  • Neural and Endocrine Consquences of Parity - This project examines the underlying mechanisms which contribute to alterations in the endocrine system following pregnancy and lactation. The primary focus areas are hypothalamic regulation of prolactin secretion and long term changes in estrogen receptor expression in the brain.
  • Reproductive Consquences of Pubertal Opiate Abuse - This project examines the effect of opiate abuse during puberty on future maternal behavior, including lactation. In addition, this project also explores how a history of drug abuse in the mother can alter the propensity of her offspring to abuse drugs.

Research Interests by Area

Reproductive Biology and Neuroscience
  • Endocrine regulation of maternal behavior in rats

Laboratory Personnel

  • Fair Vassoler, Post-Doctoral Scholar
  • Kristy Meadows, MS Student, Comparative Biomedical Sciences