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Agricultural Research magazine
A native of Southern California, Dr. Donoghue received her B.S. in Zoology from San Diego State University, her M.S. in Animal Science from Texas A&M University, and her Ph.D. in Physiology from the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. She continued her professional training as a Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Reproductive Physiology Department, at the National Zoological Park.
She joined the Germplasm and Gamete Physiology Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, as a Poultry Research Physiologist in 1993.
As part of her Ph.D. and postdoctoral research, Dr. Donoghue developed and modified assisted reproductive techniques for several felid species focusing on optimizing gonadotropin therapy, semen processing and insemination, in vitro culture conditions, in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer and sperm cryopreservation. Her work resulted in the first litters of tigers produced by in vitro fertilization/embryo transfer and artificial insemination. Subsequently she worked with a team of researchers producing the first cheetahs by artificial insemination.
With ARS, Dr. Donoghue conducted basic research to identify and elucidate factors which influence or alter sperm function in poultry including investigating sperm competition between males and its relationship to genetic paternity, and determining the effects of liquid or cryopreservation on sperm function. Her strategy was to understand how sperm characteristics influence sperm storage and paternity efficiency under the conditions used for commercial turkey production. Using DNA fingerprint analysis and microsatellite genotyping to streamline paternity identification, Dr. Donoghue and collaborators found that paternity was highly skewed among individual males. In addition, she found that methods used routinely to evaluate sires did not correlate with paternity in these studies. This discovery led Dr. Donoghue to pursue sperm function assays as a means to predict sire efficiency.
With collaborators, Dr. Donoghue has demonstrated that sperm mobility
is predictive of paternity success in competitive fertilization trials
in turkeys. With industry and university colleagues she has modified
several sperm function tests for "on-farm" implementation. In addition, she has investigated comparative cryopreservation properties of sperm across avian species to understand how sperm are damaged during the freeze-thaw process and to develop protocols to successfully freeze germplasm on-farm through a multi-institutional collaboration with scientists from the Center for Studies on Iberian Raptors, Toledo, Spain; Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Laurel MD; Conservation Research Center, Smithsonian Institution, Front Royal, VA and the All Russian Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Dr. Donoghue joined the ARS, USDA Poultry Production and Product
Safety Research Unit, located within the Center of Excellence
for Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas, as Research
Leader in June 2000. The Unit's research focus is on enhancing
the food safety of poultry, reducing metabolic disease which
impacts poultry production and developing environmentally-friendly
methods to utilize poultry manure. Her research here has focused
on developing alternatives to antibiotic use in poultry.
Donoghue has published more than 90 peer-reviewed manuscripts
or book chapters. She serves as associate editor for the Journal
of Poultry Science and the Journal of Andrology. She was named
Distinguished Young Scientist for State of Maryland by the Maryland
Science Center in 1997, was awarded the United States Presidential
Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the USDA,
ARS, Hebert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist
of the Year in 1999. She received the Hy Line International Research
Award from the Poultry Science Association in 2000.