Ryan O'Hare Doig

Ryan O'Hare Doig

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Dr Ryan O’Hare Doig

Head, Spinal Cord injury Research (SAHMRI)

Neil Sachse Centre for Spinal Cord Research

E: ryan.doig@sahmri.com

T: (08) 8128 4744

Dr. O'Hare Doig's early research career has focused on understanding the pathophysiology of secondary degeneration following neurotrauma to the central nervous system (CNS). He uses innovative analytical techniques to demonstrate biochemical, molecular and gross anatomical changes that occur following CNS injury. Dr. O'Hare Doig has developed and optimised a combinatorial treatment strategy incorporating pharmacotherapeutics for the treatment of CNS injury. Ryan’s combinatorial strategy has been assessed in a clinically relevant model of spinal cord injury (SCI), demonstrating significant functional recovery and tissue sparing, crucial for the translation of his research into clinical trials.

In 2017, Ryan joined the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the Neil Sachse Centre for Spinal Cord Research, to provide his expertise in SCI and other neurotrauma models. Dr. O'Hare Doig's lab looks to help develop new techniques to provide a more accurate diagnosis and prognosis of SCI, and to identify potential treatment strategies in a clinical setting.

Research Interests

  • Neurotrauma
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nuclear imaging (PET/CT)
  • Functional imaging (fMRI)
  • Nanomedicine
  • Inflammation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Stem cell biology
  • Glia
  • Calcium dynamics

Research projects available:

Research Project 1

Project Discovery – The 18-kDa translocator protein radioligand [18F]GE-10 as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker following spinal cord injury

Project description: One of the deleterious consequences of SCI is acute post-traumatic neuroinflammation, whereby there is an induced immune response characterised by cytokine and chemokine production, and immune cell infiltration. Understanding how particular biomarkers of neuroinflammation progress over the course of injury is imperative for tracking and predicting outcomes, providing accurate diagnosis and prognosis, and choosing and monitoring appropriate therapeutic interventions for SCI injured patients.

This study proposes to investigate whether positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of [18F]GE-180 will serve as a robust biomarker to discriminate innate and adaptive inflammatory responses during acute and chronic phases of SCI, respectively.

Projects available for: Third Year, Honours, Masters and/or PhD
Location:  SAHMRI, Royal Adelaide Hospital
Research project start: Current, ongoing.

Research Project 2

Project SCIN (Spinal Cord Injury Neurosexuality) – Developing a biological understanding of sexual health following spinal cord injury

Project description: Sexual health is a high priority for men and women with spinal cord injury (SCI). However, despite the advent of phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (e.g. Sildenafil, marketed as Viagra) individuals with SCI still report diminished sexual satisfaction and activity after injury. The psychological impacts of SCI on sexual responses have been previously demonstrated, and various methods have been developed to developed to assess these responses. However, our understanding of the biological basis of sexual dysfunction in this context is still preliminary and there is no consensus treatment guideline or evidence-based treatment plan. This study proposes to perform detailed clinical assessment comparing the spared neurological and autonomic functions of men and women with complete SCIs with quantitative fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) read-out of cord and brain activity. This will enable evaluation of human subjects in real-time and help us to elucidate the functional nature of psychogenic sexual response.

Projects available for: Honours, Masters and/or PhD
Location: SAHMRI, Royal Adelaide Hospital
Research project start:  August 2019, ongoing.

Research Project 3

Project Bridge - Bridging the gap between regenerative medicine and spinal cord injury

Project description: The human spinal cord has limited capacity for spontaneous regeneration. Regeneration and replacement of neurons and glia that undergo cell death after spinal cord injury (SCI) are the main goals of all stem cell-based therapies for SCI. However, stem cells typically show poor survival and/or differentiation under the severe conditions of SCI. Thus, translation from bench-to-bedside is clearly hindered by the lack of understanding of stem cell survival and stem cell differentiation pathways following delivery/transplantation.

Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) alters the identity and diversity of the inflammatory cells infiltrating the spinal cord. Infiltrating peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of circulatory, pulmonary and splenic origin modulate the pathophysiological microenvironment to defend the host, but also exacerbate inflammation, which negatively affects engrafted stem cell survival and differentiation. This study will examine the overall hypothesis that pre-conditioning of dental pulp stem cells (DPSC) and activated PBMC harvested from spinal cord injured patients will promote an anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and/or neuroregenerative transplant phenotype. This proposal uniquely combines priming of the injured host tissue with a biocompatible graphene oxide/sodium alginate (GO/SA) scaffold, with engraftment of pre-conditioned DPSC and PBMC in the spinal cord to promote a tissue microenvironment conducive to tissue sparing and neural regeneration.

Projects available for: Third Year, Honours, Masters and/or PhD
Location: SAHMRI, Royal Adelaide Hospital
Research project start: July 2019, on-going.


2019 - Research, Education and Programs Grant, "Project SCIN (Spinal Cord Injury Neuro-Sexuality) - Developing a biological understanding of sexual health following spinal cord injury", Lifetime Support Authority

2019 – Discovery and Innovation Award,  "Modulation of inflammatory responses using neural crest derived dental pulp stem cells following acute spinal cord injury", AO Spine

2018 – Early and Mid-Career Research Development Support Grant, "18-kDa translocator protein radioligand [18F]GE-180 as a neuroinflammatory biomarker following spinal cord injury, SAHMRI

2017 - Research, Education and Programs Grant, "Project Discovery - Using molecular imaging for precision medicine approaches for SCI", Lifetime Support Authority

Selected Awards & Scholarships

2018 – Certificate of Excellence, National Neurotrauma Society

2018 – Community Award, Christian Brothers College Alumni Recognition Award

2017 – Three Minute Thesis People Choice Award winner, Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR)

2017 – Ross Wishart Memorial Award Finalist, Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR)

2016 – Student travel award, Australasian Neuroscience Society

2016 – Carcione travel scholarship, Neurotrauma Research Program

2013 – Travel scholarship, Neurotrauma Research Program

2013 – Australian Postgraduate Award (scholarship)

2013 – UWA Safety–Net Top–Up Scholarship

2012 – Symposium for Western Australian Neuroscience (SWAN) 2nd place Honours student prize

Teaching experience

2016 – 2018 – Human Biology (ANHB1102) – Lecturer

2016 – Modern Research Tools in Neuroscience (NEUR4010) – Lecturer

2014 – 2016 –  Human Biology (ANHB1101/1102) – Tutor

2012 – 2016 – Comparative Neurobiology (ANIM3320)Examiner

2012 – 2016 – Advanced Neuroscience (NEUR3326)Demonstrator

2014 – Frontiers in Biology (BIOL1130) – Demonstrator

2013 – Anatomy Physiology & Cell Biology (DENT4101/POD4103)Demonstrator

2012 – 2013 – Human Neurobiology (ANHB2217)Demonstrator

Student Supervision & Mentoring


2018 - Honours, Mentor, SAHMRI

2016 – 2018 – Lecturer (ANHB1101/1102), University of Western Australia

2016 – Laboratory student placement supervisor, University of Western Australia

2014–2015 – Student work experience placement supervisor, University of Western Australia


2016 – present – PhD, Mentor, University of Western Australia & SAHMRI

2015 – 2016 – Masters, Supervisor, University of Western Australia

2013 – 2016 Honours, Mentor, University of Western Australia

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