Dr Liza O’Donnell

Dr Liza O’Donnell joined the Prince Henry’s Institute (now Hudson Institute of Medical Research) in 1991 after completing an undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at RMIT Melbourne. She completed her PhD studies in 1996.

Her PhD studies investigated the regulation of spermatid development (spermiogenesis) by androgens. Her postdoctoral studies have included studying the hormonal regulation of the 5alpha-reductase isoenzymes and their roles in spermatogenesis, the cellular interactions between spermatids and Sertoli cells and the phenotype of the male aromatase knockout mouse.

Dr O’Donnell’s area of interest is in the regulation of sperm production (spermatogenesis) and the role of hormones in this process. Her studies aim to identify the molecules involved in regulating sperm production to aid in the discovery of new, more targeted and effective contraceptives and to better understand conditions of infertility.

The research uses stereological and histological assessments of spermatogenic cell populations in testes to understand at which sites hormones, particularly FSH and androgens, act to control spermatogenesis.

A recent focus of her research is the process of sperm release or spermiation. Various techniques are used to explore this process, including immunohistochemistry, confocal and electron microscopy, stereology, Western blotting and in vivo models and in vitro cell cultures.

Other studies underway are investigating the transcriptional and post-translational regulation of spermatogenesis using microarray and proteomics.

Dr O’Donnell’s expertise is in stereological, histological, immunohistochemical and morphometric assessment of the testis, in vivo and in vitro models of spermatogenesis and physiology of spermiation.

Selected publications

  • Dunleavy JEM, O’Bryan M, Stanton PG, O’Donnell L (2018) The cytoskeleton in spermatogenesis.  Reproduction Dec 1. pii REP-18-0457.R1.

  • O’Donnell L, Stanton PG, De Kretser DM 2017 Endocrinology of the male reproductive system and spermatogenesis, in www.Endotext.org January 11th 2017, Section Editor: McLachlan RI, published by MDText.com, Inc, S. Dartmouth, MA.

  • O’Donnell L, and Stanton PG (2018) Spermiation. In: M K Skinner (Ed) Encyclopedia of Reproduction  2nd Edn, Vol 1.  Male Reproduction. Jegou B, et al., eds. Academic Press: Elsevier pp. 145-151.

  • Smith LB, Walker WH, O’Donnell L 2015. Hormonal regulation of spermatogenesis through Sertoli cells by androgens and estrogens. In: Sertoli Cell Biology 2nd Edn. Griswold M, ed. Elsevier Inc. pp175-200.

  • O’Donnell L, O’Bryan MK (2014) Microtubules and Spermatogenesis. Semin Cell Dev Biol 30:45-54.

  • O’Donnell L, McLachlan RI  (2012) The role of testosterone in spermatogenesis. In: Testosterone: action, deficiency, substitution. 4th Edn. Nieschlag E et al., eds. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 6, pp 123-153.

  • O’Donnell L, Rhodes D, Smith SJ, Merriner DJ, Clark BJ, Borg C, Whittle B, O’Connor AE, Smith LB, McNally F, de Kretser DM, Goodnow CC, Ormandy CJ, Jamsai D, O’Bryan MK  (2012) An essential role for p80 katanin and microtubule severing in male gamete production. PLOS Genetics 8(5): e1002698. Commentary (World of reproductive biology) in Biology of Reproduction doi:10.1095/biolreprod.112.102590.

  • O’Donnell L, Nicholls PK, O’Bryan MK, McLachlan RI, Stanton PG (2011) Spermiation: The process of sperm release. Spermatogenesis 1(1):14-35.

  • O’Donnell L, Pratis K, Wagenfeld A, Gottwald A, Müller J, Leder G, McLachlan RI, Stanton PG (2009) Transcriptional profiling of the hormone-responsive stages of spermatogenesis reveals stage-, cell- and hormone-specific events. Endocrinology 150:5074–5084.

  • O’Donnell L, Meachem SJ, Stanton PG, McLachlan RI (2006) The endocrine regulation of spermatogenesis. In: Knobil and Neill’s Physiology of Reproduction 3rd Edn. Neill JD, ed.  Elsevier, San Diego CA. pp 1017-1069.


  • Beardsley A, O’Donnell L (2003) Characterization of normal spermiation and spermiation failure induced by hormone suppression in adult rats. Biol Reprod 68:1299-1307.

  • McLachlan RI, O’Donnell L, Stanton PG, Balourdos G, Frydenberg M, de Kretser DM, Robertson DM (2002) Effects of testosterone plus medroxyprogesterone acetate on semen quality, reproductive hormones and germ cell populations  in normal young men. J Clinical Endocrinol Metab 87:546-556.

  • O’Donnell L, Robertson KM, Jones MEE, Simpson ER (2001) Estrogen and spermatogenesis. Endocrine Reviews 22(3):289-318.