Researchers at UCD


Alan O'Doherty

Research Fellow

School Of Veterinary Medicine
Agriculture and Food Science
Dublin 4

Tel: 0858239077


Early Stage Researcher


 University of Nevada, Reno, USA

One of eight successful candidates to be accepted for undergraduate placement year at UNR. Led a project investigating the effect of neurotoxic peptides (conotoxins) on the release of neurotransmitters at neuroeffector junctions in sympathetic neurons, in Professor David Westfall's laboratory. The write-up and supervisors report from this year resulted in being awarded a Diploma in Industrial Studies. This placement was an excellent opportunity for gaining valuable experience presenting experimental findings, through oral presentation to a wide range of scientists at seminars hosted by the School of Medicine. 


 University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland

Research project in Prof. Colum Walsh's laboratory, as partial fulfillment for the completion of an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences, at the University of Ulster. This involved a project investigating Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) that were potentially novel DNA methyltransferases, followed by a written report in journal format. The output constituted a highly graded research project with part of the research being included for publication in 'Genomics' (2004).  


 University of Nevada, Reno, USA

 Enrolled in the post graduate program for Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno, as a member of Prof. Wei Yan's lab. Involved in a project focusing on germ cell specific genes, and their role in successful gametogenesis. This position allowed the further development of a range of molecular biology research skills, which were subsequently built upon and advanced as a post graduate researcher at the University of Ulster.


Postgraduate Researcher


 University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland

 Responsible for leading a study investigating the sex specific regulation of one of the major de novo DNA methyltransferases, as a member of the Stem Cells and Epigenetics group (University of Ulster). In addition to the successful completion of a PhD thesis, results were published in Human Reproduction (2007) and Developmental Biology (2011). Also, in the final year of my PhD I presented my research at the Irish National Developmental Biology meeting (2008), which received an award in the poster session.


Experienced Researcher


 School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Ireland

 Senior post-doctoral researcher in the SFI funded Reproductive Biology Research Cluster (RBRC). Research was focused on the potential contribution of aberrant genomic imprinting in the postpartum oocyte, to poor reproductive performance in high yielding dairy cattle and the impact of assisted reproduction technologies on the embryonic DNA methylome.  Invited to present the findings, as oral and poster presentations, at the annual Society for the study of Reproduction meetings in 2010 and 2011, COST Action Epiconcept in 2013 and 2015 and the International Embryo Transfer Society Meeting in 2013. Being a member of a large research group I have been involved in other projects, results from which have been published in Plos One (2013), Physiological Genomics (2011) and Biology of Reproduction (2010).

 (April 2013)

 University of Laval, Quebec, Canada

 Recipient of funding for a project to investigate the impact of human assisted reproduction technologies (ART) on the epigenomes of resultant embryos, using the bovine model. Genome wide analysis of DNA methylation was performed to interrogate methylation patterns in the trophectoderm and embryonic discs of day 17 in vivo, in vitro and superovulation derived embryos.

 (2014 - 2016)

 School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Ireland

 Application of video microscopy techniques in combination with molecular analysis to investigate sperm interactions in the oviduct, and further understand how alterations to these processes can affect fertility. Specifically, developed a method for assessing the impact of infection (exposure to lipopolysaccharide) on oviduct function and sperm motility and in identifying how a nonsense mutation in a gene vital for male fertility (TMEM95) affected sperm function in the bovine oviduct.

(2016, Jan - Sept)

Nova UCD Technology Transfer Office,University College Dublin, Ireland

Involved with managing the identification, protection and commercialisation of University College Dublin research outputs, within the life sciences area.


Research Fellow 

 (2016 - 2017)

 SFI Industry Fellowship, University College Dublin and ReproMed, Ireland

Recipient of an SFI Industry Fellowship award to foster the implementation of a collaborative project between Academia (UCD) and Industry (ReproMed). Project title - Translating basic fertility research for clinical application with an emphasis on unexplained male factor infertility in human.




Conference Contributions

O'Doherty AM, McGettigan P, Magee DA, Gagne D, Fournier E, Sirard MA, Robert C. and Fair T. (2015) A work of ART-DNA methylation analysis of pre-implantation bovine embryos. [Poster Presentation], Epigenetics and Periconception Environment, Hersonissos, Crete, Greece , 06-OCT-15 - 08-OCT-15.
O'Doherty A.M. (Platform Presentation), Magee D.A., Beltman M.E., Duffy P. and Fair T. (2013) Stability of bovine DNA methylation imprints: from the oocyte to preimplantation embryo. [Oral Presentation], 1st COST action FA1201 EPICONCEPT meeting, Epigenetics and Periconception Environment, Antalya, Turkey , 24-APR-13 - 25-APR-13.
O'Doherty A.M. (Session Chair) (2012) 16th Conference of the European Society for Domestic Animal Reproduction. [Chaired Session], ESDAR, University College Dublin , 29-AUG-12 - 01-SEP-12.


Year 2003 Institution: University of Ulster, Coleraine
Qualification: BSc Subject: BSc Hons Biomedical Sciences with Dip in Industrial Studies
Year 2009 Institution: University of Ulster, Coleraine
Qualification: PhD Subject: DNA methylation and Epigenetics



Peer Reviewed Journals

Kusari, F., O'Doherty, A.M., Hodges, N.J. and Wojewodzic, M.W. (2017) 'Bi-directional efects of vitamin B12 and methotrexate on Daphnia magna ftness and genomic methylation'. Scientific Reports, 7 . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
B. Fernandez-Fuertes, R. Laguna-Barraza, R. Fernandez-Gonzalez, A. Gutierrez-Adan, A. Blanco-Fernandez, A. M. O¿Doherty, M. Di Fenza, A. K. Kelly, S. Kölle and P. Lonergan (2017) 'Subfertility in bulls carrying a nonsense mutation in TMEM95 is due to failure to interact with the oocyte vestments'. Biology of Reproduction, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Doherty, A.M., Di Fenza, M. (2016) 'Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) disrupts particle transport, cilia function and sperm motility in an ex vivo oviduct model'. Scientific Reports, 6, article 24583 . Available Online Link to full text [Details]
K. L. J Desmet, V. Van Hoeck, D. Gagné, E. Fournier, A. Thakur, A. M. O'Doherty, C. P. Walsh, M. A. Sirard, P. E. J. Bols and J. L. M. R. Leroy (2016) 'Exposure of bovine oocytes and embryos to elevated non-esterified fatty acid concentrations: integration of epigenetic and transcriptomic signatures in resultant blastocysts'. BMC Genomics, . Available Online [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
A. M. O'Doherty, L. C. O'Shea, O. Sandra, P. Lonergan, T. Fair and N. Forde (2016) 'Imprinted and DNA methyltransferase gene expression in the endometrium during the pre- and peri-implantation period in cattle'. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Doherty A.M., Magee D.A., O'Shea L.C., Forde N., Beltman M.E., Mamo S. and Fair T. (2015) 'DNA methylation dynamics at imprinted genes during bovine pre-implantation embryo development'. BMC Developmental Biology, 15 (13). Available Online [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
O'Doherty A.M., MacHugh D.E., Spillane C. and Magee D.A. (2015) 'Genomic imprinting effects on complex traits in domesticated animal species'. Frontiers in genetics, . Available Online Link to full text [Details]
Shojaei Saadi H.A., O'Doherty A.M., Gagné D., Fournier E., Grant J.R., Sirard M.A. and Robert C. (2014) 'An integrated platform for bovine DNA methylome analysis suitable for small samples'. BMC Genomics, 15 (1). Available Online Link to full text [Details]
O'Doherty A.M., O'Gorman A., al Naib A., Brennan L., Daly E., Duffy P. and Fair T. (2014) 'Negative energy balance affects imprint stability in oocytes recovered from postpartum dairy cows'. Genomics, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
O'Doherty A.M. and McGettigan P.A. (2014) 'Epigenetic processes in the male germline'. Reproduction Fertility and Development, . Available Online [Details]
Bahar B, O'Doherty JV, O'Doherty AM, Sweeney T (2013) 'Chito-oligosaccharide inhibits the de-methylation of a 'CpG' island within the leptin (LEP) promoter during Adipogenesis of 3T3-L1 cells'. PLoS ONE, 8 (3):e60011. [DOI] Link to full text [Details]
O'Doherty A.M., O'Shea L.C. and Fair T. (2011) 'Bovine DNA Methylation Imprints Are Established in an Oocyte Size-Specific Manner, Which Are Coordinated with the Expression of the DNMT3 Family Proteins'. Biology of Reproduction, . [Details]
Okumu L.A., Fair T., Szekeres-Bartho J., O'Doherty A.M., Crowe M.A., Roche J.F., Lonergan P. and Forde N. (2011) 'Endometrial expression of progesterone induced blocking factor and galectins-1, -3, -9 and -3 binding protein in the luteal phase and early pregnancy in cattle'. Physiological genomics, 43 :903-910. [Details]
O'Doherty A.M., Rutledge C.E., Sato S., Thakur A., Lees-Murdock D.J., Hata K. and Walsh C.P. (2011) 'DNA methylation plays an important role in promoter choice and protein production at the mouse Dnmt3L locus'. Developmental Biology, . [Details]
O'Gorman G.M., Al Naib A., Ellis S.A., Mamo S., O'Doherty A.M., Lonergan P. and Fair T. (2010) 'Regulation of a bovine nonclassical major histocompatibility complex class I gene promoter'. Biology of Reproduction, 83 (2):296-306. Available Online [Details]
Shovlin T.C., Bourc'his D., La Salle S., O'Doherty A.M., Trasler J.M., Bestor T.H. and Walsh C.P. (2007) 'Sex-specific promoters regulate Dnmt3L expression in mouse germ cells'. Human reproduction (Oxford, England), 22 (2):457-467. Available Online Link to full text [Details]
Jin JL, O'Doherty A.M., Wang S., Zheng H., Sanders K.M. and Yan W. (2005) 'Catsper3 and Catsper4 Encode Two Cation Channel-Like Proteins Exclusively Expressed in the Testis'. Biology of Reproduction, 73 (6):1235-1242. Available Online [Details]
Lees-Murdock D.J., McLoughlin G.A., McDaid J.R., Quinn L.M., O'Doherty A.M., Hiripi L., Hack C.J. and Walsh C.P. (2004) 'Identification of 11 pseudogenes in the DNA methyltransferase gene family in rodents and humans and implications for the functional loci'. Genomics, 84 (1):193-204. Available Online [Details]

Conference Publications

O'Doherty A.M., Magee D.A., Beltman M.E., Mamo S., Rizos D. and Fair T. (2013) Variable DNA methylation profiles at imprinted loci in bovine early pre-implantation embryos International Embryo Transfer Society Available Online [Details]
O'Doherty A.M.(Platform Presentation), Matoba S., Lonergan P. and Fair T. (2011) In vitro manipulations of bovine oocytes and embryos are associated with aberrant methylation at maternally imprinted loci The 44th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction [Details]
O'Doherty A.M. (2011) (attendance only) 4th International Symposium on Animal Functional Genomics, The Burlington Hotel Dublin, Ireland [Details]
O'Doherty A.M. and Fair T. (2010) Investigating the acquisition of DNA methylation at maternally imprinted genes during bovine oocyte growth 43rd Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction [Details]
O'Doherty A.M. (2010) (attendance only) Epigenetics Europe, Select Biosciences. The Burlington Hotel Dublin, Ireland [Details]
O'Doherty A.M. and Walsh C.P. (2008) Promoter choice at the murine Dnmt3L locus Irish National Developmental Biology meeting at University College Dublin, Conway Institute [Details]
O'Doherty A.M. (2007) (attendance only) Northern Ireland stem cell biology meeting, Comfort Hotel Antrim, Northern Ireland [Details]
O'Doherty A.M. (2006) (attendance only) Unravelling Cromatin & the Role of Epigenetics in Disease, UCD Conway Institute [Details]


Research Interests

Life Scientist with over 12 years experience investigating the molecular aspects of reproduction and early development. Specifically, my research has focused on understanding the mechanisms involved with the establishment and maintenance of vital epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation) during gametogenesis and embryogenesis. Extremely interested in determining the impact of human assisted reproduction technologies and parental environment (i.e. diet, smoking, alcohol consumption) on the epigenomes of the subsequent generation(s).

Currently, investigating epigenetic mechanisms in human spermatozoa in collaboration with my industry partner ReproMed Ireland (, funded by a Science Foundation Ireland Industry Fellowship Award. Also, collaborator on a project involved with interrogating the host response (bovine alveolar macrophages) to invading pathogens (Mycobacterium tuberculosis).
Experienced scientific writer and presenter of scientific data through publication of over 15 internationally peer reviewed papers and presentation of data at annual conferences - Society for the study of reproduction, international embryo transfer society and COST Action EPICONCEPT. 

Previously, was a member of the technology transfer team at Nova UCD - gaining experience and skills that are essential for assessing the commercialisation potential of life science research outputs. This involves determining the novelty of research outputs, assessment of invention disclosure forms, construction of licencing opportunity technology capsules, market evaluation, patentability reporting, sales forecasting and potential for market penetration.

Research Projects

Sponsor : University College Dublin (UCD)
Title : Compromised bovine ovarian environment and failure to establish DNA methylation imprints
Start Date / End Date : 01-MAY-13 / 31-OCT-14


Internal Collaborators


Dr. Trudee Fair, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin.
Prof. David MacHugh, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin.
Prof. Steve Gordon, School Of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin.
Dr. Lynne O'Shea, School of Medicine, University College Dublin.
Prof. Patrick Lonergan, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin.
Prof. Torres Sweeney, School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin.

Prof. Lorraine Brennan, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin. 


External Collaborators


Prof. Wei Yan, School of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, USA.
Dr. Claude Robert, Université Laval, Québec

Prof. Marc-Andre Sirard, Université Laval, Québec.
Prof. Colum Walsh, Stem Cells and Epigenetics Research Group Leader. University of Ulster, Coleraine.
Prof. (Associate) Jo Leroy, University of Antwerp, Belgium.
Prof. Sergio Ledda University of Sassari, Italy.
Dr. Erin Williams, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh.
Dr. Niamh Forde, Division of Reproduction and Early Development, University of Leeds, England.
Dr. Marcin W Wojewodzic, Environmental Genomics Group, University of Birmingham.
Dr. Kevin Rue-Albrecht, Division of Experimental Medicine, Imperial College London, England.
Dr. David Magee, Senior Medical Writer and Data Analyst, Novartis.
Dr. Avinash Thakur, Terry Fox Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.