Heather Doherty

Heather Doherty

Associate Professor
Program Coordinator of Biology (BA, BS, & MS), Cell & Molecular Biology, & Environmental Biology
Phone: (603) 535-3181
Office: Exploration & Discovery, Boyd Science Center Rm 108, MSC 48, Plymouth, NH 03264
Pronouns: She/her/hers


Ph.D. Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
B.S. Biology – Genetics, Purdue University – West Lafayette

Dr. Doherty joined the faculty of PSU from Harvard Medical School in 2012. She has expertise in genetics/genomics, molecular biology, curriculum design, best practices in science teaching, and research in cardiovascular disease and obesity. Her teaching focuses on genetics, human disease, and molecular biology. In her laboratory, she researches genetic targets for treating scarring of the heart caused by cardiovascular disease and wound healing (details below). Dr. Doherty is also the Coordinator of the Masters in Biology program at PSU. In her spare time, she enjoys attending concerts, canoeing, traveling, and the sport of curling.


The Doherty lab examines the genetics, genomics, and molecular biology of tissue regeneration, wound healing, and heart disease in humans. Every year over 700,000 people in the United States will suffer a heart attack and about 60% will survive. For survivors, permanent scarring of heart tissue is a long-term complication that reduces tissue elasticity and electrical conductivity leading to poor heart function and/or an irregular heartbeat. Ultimately, it is scarring of the heart that is responsible for many of the ongoing health issues after a heart attack. If scar formation could be prevented and healthy wound healing encouraged, outcomes for patients could be substantially improved. However, we do not know which individuals in the population are most genetically susceptible to scarring. Thus, in order to target therapy to those most at risk, we need to know more about the genetic causes of scarring. Overexpression of a gene called connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a key cause of scarring of the heart and other major tissues suggesting that genetic variation in CTGF is likely to play a role in individual susceptibility to scarring. In order to better understand the influence of CTGF genetic variation on scarring, ongoing projects in the lab are investigating: 1) Discovery of genetic variation in the Connective Tissue Growth Factor gene, 2) Testing for association of human genetic variants to heart disease, and 3) Using tissue culture cells to model the role of genetic variation in wound healing.

Courses (undergraduate)

Molecular Biology
Obesity – The Biology and Sociology of an Epidemic
Undergraduate Research

Courses (graduate)

Molecular Biology
Methods in Biostatistics
Graduate Skills Seminar

Selected Publications

Doherty HE, Hagaman J, Kim HS, Hiller S, and Maeda N. Increased Ctgf gene expression exacerbates Angiotensin II-induced cardiac hypertrophy. In preparation.

Doherty HE, Kim HS, Hiller S, Sulik KK, Maeda N. Altering the Ctgf-3’UTR to make a mouse with low and high basal gene expression. PLoS ONE. 2010 Sept; 22. 5(9): e12909.

Altenburg M, Homeister J, Doherty H, Maeda N. Genetics of atherosclerosis in murine models. Curr Drug Targets. 2007 Nov;8(11):1161-71.

Bell TA, de la Casa-Esperon E, Doherty HE, Ideraabdullah F, Kim K, Wang Y, Lange L, Wilhemsen K, Lange E, Sapienza C, Pardo-Manuel de Villena F. The paternal gene of the DDK syndrome maps to the Schlafen gene cluster on mouse chromosome 11. Genetics. 2006 Jan;172(1):411-23. Epub 2005 Sep 19.

Kim K, Thomas S, Howard IB, Bell TA, Doherty HE, Ideraabdullah F, Detwiler DA, Pardo-Manuel de Villena F. Meiotic drive at the Om locus in wild-derived mouse inbred strains. Biol J Linnean Soc. Volume 84, Issue 3, Page 487-492, March 2005.

Recognition and Funding

NH-INBRE Pilot Grant 2018
Plymouth State University RAC Grant 2013, 2015, & 2017
Honorable mention NSF pre-doctoral fellowship 2004
International Mouse Genome Society member 2003-2010
Phi Beta Kappa 2002-present
Beta Beta Beta Biology Honorary 2001-present
Alpha Chi Sigma Chemistry fraternity 1999-present