Helen Donoghue received her Special Honours B.Sc in Microbiology in 1967, and PhD in Bacteriology in 1971 from the University of Bristol, UK. She spent six years as a post-doctoral research scientist in the Medical Research Council Dental Unit at the University of Bristol Dental School.
In 1976 she moved to the University of Bradford, UK as Lecturer in Medical Sciences and in 1980 moved to University College London (UCL) as Senior Lecturer in Oral Microbiology in the Dental School. From 1992-2011 she was Senior Lecturer, Department of Medical Microbiology, later renamed as the Centre for Infectious Diseases and International Health, Division of Infection and Immunity, UCL.
Her present position at UCL is Honorary Senior Lecturer, Division of Biosciences, Centre for The History of Medicine and Division of Infection and Immunity, Centre for Clinical Microbiology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and member of several microbiological and professional societies.