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Indiana University Bloomington

Heather Bradshaw

Dr. Heather Bradshaw

Associate Professor


hbbradsh [at]

office: MSB2 116 | (812)856-1559

lab: Bradshaw Lab of Reproductive Neuroscience
   MSBII 146 | (812)855-0652


Female reproductive neuroendocrinology and the neurochemistry of reproductive pain

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Florida State University, 2001
  • B.S. Florida State University, 1994

Areas of Study

  • Biology, Behavior, and Neuroscience

Research Topics

  • endogenous cannabinoids and uterine neurophysiology
  • vaginal neurophysiology
  • role of hormones in neural response
  • chemical signaling mechanisms

Research Summary:

During my graduate career, I studied behavioral responses to uterine and vaginal stimulation in rats in concert with neurophysiologic measurements in the brainstem in order to understand neuronal responses to stimulation of reproductive tissue. These studies identified novel processing of neuronal information from stimulation of the uterus, cervix, and vagina in the brainstem and showed that both the behavioral and neuronal responses changed with variations in circulating hormones.

To further understand neuronal processing at the cellular level I began work in the field of endogenous cannabinoid lipid signaling. My studies in this field are centered on the relationship of endogenous cannabinoids and uterine and vaginal neurophysiology. More specifically, our current work focuses on the regulation of uterine contractions by endogenous cannabinoid signaling lipids.

As a laboratory in both the department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and at the Kinsey Institute our focus will be to more fully understand how different chronic pain conditions in humans may be caused by the loss of the regulation of uterine and vaginal neurophysiology. There are very little data on vaginal neurophysiology in particular in humans, which is a direction of study that we will undergo within the Kinsey Institute. By crossing-over into human studies of the regulation of vaginal smooth muscle tone, our goal is to provide a better framework for understanding chronic conditions involving vaginal function.

Representative Publications

Bradshaw, H.B. and Walker, J.M. (2005). The expanding field of cannabimimetic and related lipid mediators. British Journal of Pharmacology, 144, 459-65.

Fernandez-Rodriguez, C.M., Romero, J., Petros, T.J., Bradshaw, H., Gasalla, J.M., Gutierrez, M.L., Lledo, J.L., Santander, C., Fernandez, T.P., Tomas, E., Cacho, G., Walker, J.M. (2004). Circulating endogenous cannabinoid anandamide and portal, systemic and renal hemodynamics in cirrhosis. Liver International, 24,

Bradshaw, H.B. and Berkley, K.J. (2003). The influence of ovariectomy with or without estrogen replacement on responses of rat gracile nucleus neurons to stimulation of hindquarter skin and pelvic viscera. Brain Research, 986 , 82-90.

Bradshaw, H.B. and Berkley, K.J. (2002). Estrogen Replacement Reverses Ovariectomy-Induced Vaginal Hyperalgesia in the Rat. Maturitas, 41,

Berkley, K.J., Cason, A., Jacobs, H., Bradshaw, H., Wood, E. (2001). Vaginal hyperalgesia in a rat model of endometriosis. Neuroscience Letters, 306,

Bradshaw, H.B. and Berkley, K.J. (2000). Estrous Changes in Responses of Rat Gracile Nucleus Neurons to Stimulation of Skin and Pelvic Viscera. Journal of Neuroscience,, 20, 7722-7727.