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

 Email: l.o'hara@ed.ac.uk


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.


  • 2021: Moray Endowment Fund: 'Optimisation of a mass spectrometry method to measure sex steroids in brain tissue'

  • 2016 - 2018: BBSRC (Researcher Co-Investigator) '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: ‘The role of PDGFRB+ cells in the pituitary gland’



O’Hara L, Christian HC, Le Tissier P, Smith LB (2021)  Hyperprolactinemia in a male pituitary androgen receptor knockout mouse model is associated with a female-like pattern of lactotroph development.  Andrology 2021 May 16.  DOI: 10.1111/andr.13040

Gannon A-L, O’Hara L, Mason JI, Jørgensen A, Frederiksen H, Curley M, Milne L, Smith SE, MitchellRT and Smith LB (2021)   Androgen Receptor is dispensable for X-zone regression in the female adrenal but regulates post- partum corticosterone levels and protects cortex integrity.  Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021 Jan 21;11:599869. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2020.599869

O’Hara L, Christian HC, Jeffery N, Le Tissier P, Smith LB (2020)  Characterisation of a mural cell network in the murine pituitary gland.  Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 32(10): e12903, DOI: 10.1111/jne.12903

Gannon A-L, O’Hara L, Mason JI, Jørgensen A, Frederiksen H, Milne L, Smith SE, MitchellRT and Smith LB (2019)  Androgen receptor signalling in the male adrenal facilitates X-zone regression, cell turnover and protects against adrenal degeneration during ageing.  Scientific Reports, 9(1):10457, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-46049-3

Gannon A-L, O’Hara L, Mason JI, Rebourcet D, Smith SE, Traveres A, Frederikson H, Jørgensen A, Milne L, MitchellRT and Smith LB (2019)  Ablation of glucocorticoid receptor in the hindbrain of the mouse provides a novel model to investigate stress disorders.  Scientific Reports, volume 9, Article number: 3250

O’Hara L, O’Shaughnessy PJ, Freeman TC, Smith LB (2018)  Modelling steroidogenesis: a framework model to support hypothesis generation and testing across endocrine studies.  BMC Research Notes, Apr 24;11(1):252

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, McInnesK, SimitsidellisI, MorganS, AtanassovaN, Slowikowska-HilczerJ, KulaK, Szarras-CzapnikM, MilneL, MitchellRT, and SmithLB (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