Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences
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Dr. Laura O’Hara

Researching the mechanisms by which steroid hormones such as androgens and estrogens act in the hypothalamus and pituitary to control male reproduction and testosterone production.

Dr Laura O'Hara

Academic track lecturer (Edinburgh/Zhejiang)

  • Hugh Robson Building
  • 15 George Square
  • Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

Personal profile

  • 2018 - Present: Academic Track Lecturer (Edinburgh/Zhejiang)
  • 2014 - 2016: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (secondment), Roslin Institute
  • 2011 - 2017: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health
  • 2007 - 2011: PhD MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit

Research Theme

Genes and Development


I am currently researching the mechanisms by which steroid hormones such as androgens and estrogens act in the hypothalamus and pituitary to control male reproduction and testosterone production.

I am also interested in improving the way that biological pathways are depicted as diagrams and have been involved in developing the modified Edinburgh Pathway Notation (mEPN) for use as a dynamic modelling system.


  • 2016 - 2018: BBSRC (Researcher Co-Investigator) - Project title: 'How does pituitary androgen signalling support lifelong health and wellbeing? An integrated transgenic and systems biology approach'

  • 2017: British Society for Neuroendocrinology Project Support Grant - Project title: ‘The role of PDGFRB+ cells in the pituitary gland’


  • Professor Lee Smith (University of Newcastle, Australia)
  • Dr. Helen Christian (University of Oxford)
  • Professor Tom Freeman (Roslin Institute)
  • Dr. Paul Le Tissier (CDBS)


Livigni A*, O'Hara L*, Polak ME, Angus T, Smith LB, Freeman TC (2018) (*Shared first authorship)  A graphical and computational modeling platform for biological pathways Nature Protocols Apr;13(4):705-722. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2017.144. Epub 2018 Mar 15.

 Patel SH*, O’Hara L*, Atanassova N, Smith SE, Curley MK, Rebourcet D, Darbey AL, Gannon A-L, Sharpe RM, Smith LB (2017) (*Shared first authorship) Single low-dose tamoxifen treatment induces long term adverse changes to peripheral tissue: implications for use of inducible transgenics Scientific Reports 7(1): 8991

O’Hara L and Smith LB (2017) Mouse Genetics – How Does It Inform Male Fertility Research? In, The Sperm Cell, 2nd Edition. Eds: De Jonge C and Barratt C. Cambridge University Press p260-279

 O’Hara L, Livigni A, Theocharidis T, Boyer B, Angus T, Wright D, Chen SH, Raza S, Barnett MW, Digard P, Smith LB, and Freeman TC (2016) Modelling the structure and dynamics of biological pathways PLoS Biology 14(8): e1002530

O’Hara L and Smith LB (2016) Development and Characterisation of Cell-Specific Androgen Receptor Knockout Mice  Methods Mol Biol 1443: 219-248

O’Hara L, Curley M, Tedim Ferreira M, Cruickshanks L, Milne L, Smith LB (2015) Pituitary Androgen Receptor Signalling Regulates Prolactin But Not Gonadotrophins In The Male Mouse PLoS ONE 10(3): e0121657

O’Hara L and Smith LB (2015) Androgen receptor roles in spermatogenesis and infertility Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 29(4): 595-605

O’Hara  L, McInnes K, Simitsidellis I, Morgan S, Atanassova N, Slowikowska-Hilczer J, Kula K, Szarras-Czapnik M, Milne L, Mitchell RT, and Smith LB (2014) Autocrine Androgen Action is Essential for Leydig Cell Maturation and Function, and Protects Against Late-Onset Leydig Cell Apoptosis in Both Mice and Men FASEB J. 2014 Nov 17. pii: fj.14-255729.

O'Hara L, York JP, Zhang P and Smith LB (2014)  Targeting of GFP-Cre to the mouse Cyp11a1 locus both drives Cre recombinase expression in steroidogenic cells and permits generation of Cyp11a1 knock out mice.  PLoS ONE. Jan 3;9(1):e84541.

O’Hara L, Welsh M, Saunders PTKS and Smith LB (2011)  Androgen Receptor Expression In The Caput Epididymal Epithelium Is Essential For Development Of The Initial Segment And Epididymal Sperm Transit Endocrinology, 152 (2): 718-729