Dr Rosemary O'Hara

BA (Mod), Msc, PhD

Lecturer in Biochemistry and Quality Control
BA (Mod) in Natural Science (1996) in Biochemistry 
MSc in Biomedical Science (1998)
PhD in [Molecular Biology Rheumatology] 

e: rosemary.ohara@itcarlow.ie t: 059 9175517


  • Research Interests
  • Publications
  • Research Supervision

Research Interests

Dr O’Hara has an interest in Arthritis research. Arthritis is one of the major debilitating diseases in today’s modern world.  In Ireland nearly half a million men, women and over 5,000 children under the age of 12 have arthritis in some form.  This totals 13% of Irish people who display signs of arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by progressive joint destruction.  In RA, angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation) and persistent inflammatory cells are central in mediating bone destruction. This is characterized by varying levels of inflammation in synovial tissue. These levels are reflected by changes in the acute-phase response (APR), which is a phenomenon that is induced by inflammation, infection, and tissue damage. The APR is exemplified by changes in plasma concentrations of several proteins. One protein is acute phase serum amyloid A (A-SAA) which plays a critical role in our defense mechanisms. Serum levels of A-SAA in RA patients increases dramatically within hours following an inflammatory stimulus and can reach levels that are 1000-fold greater than normal. A-SAA correlates with disease progression. A-SAA mRNA is produced by fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) and endothelial cells obtained from synovial tissue samples from the knee joints of patients with RA and other inflammatory arthropathies. 
One of the earliest events in inflammation is angiogenesis, these new blood vessels invade the synovium which results in a persistent infiltration of immune cells. High levels of adhesion molecule expression are present in the inflamed joint. Once inflammatory cells enter the joint they release proinflammatory cytokines and growth factors which activate several pathways that are involved in cell survival, migration and degradation resulting in the destruction of the joint.

Current Research Projects

The role that A-SAA plays in the regulation of inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis by examining Focal adhesion kinase and integrin expression.


Mullan RH, Bresnihan B, Golden-Mason L, Markham T, OHara R, FitzGerald O, Veale DJ, Fearon U.
Acute-phase serum amyloid A stimulation of angiogenesis, leukocyte recruitment, and matrix degradation in rheumatoid arthritis through an NF-kappaB-dependent signal transduction pathway. Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Jan; 54(1):105-14. 
OHara R, Murphy EP, Whitehead AS, FitzGerald O, Bresnihan B.
Local expression of the serum amyloid A and formyl peptide receptor-like 1 genes in synovial tissue is associated with matrix metalloproteinase production in patients with inflammatory arthritis.  Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Jun; 50(6):1788-99.
OHara R, Murphy EP, Whitehead AS, FitzGerald O, Bresnihan B.
Acute-phase serum amyloid A production by rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue.
Arthritis Res. 2000; 2(2):142-4. Epub 2000 Feb 24.

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Biochemical Society
  • Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS).
  • Food Safety Authority, Ireland
  • The BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science)
  • Member of BioNet 
  • Irish Online Biotechnology Network

Postgrad Research Supervision

Dr. O’Hara is currently supervising a Masters student in collaboration with Professor Barry Bresnihan and Dr Ursula Fearon, Dept of Rheumatology, St. Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH).  

These studies are carried out in inflamed synovium, endothelial cells (EC) and FLS obtained from arthritis sufferers in SVUH. Synovial tissue is also treated with various pro-inflammatory mediators to investigate if these mediators contribute to angiogenesis, inflammation and ultimately disease progression.