Monika A. Ward, PhD


Portrait of Monika A. Ward, PhD, Professor, IBR, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Sperm Genetics and Function in Fertilization

Short Bio

Monika Ward received MS degree (1994) in Biotechnology from the Adam Mickewicz University, Poznan, Poland and PhD degree (2001) in Biological Sciences (Reproductive Biology) from the Karol Marcinkowski School of Medicine, Poznan, Poland. Her graduate studies were carried out at the Institute for Human Genetics, Polish Academy of Sciences, and involved investigations of human sperm and human male infertility. In 1999 Monika was recruited to join Ryuzo Yanagimachi’s (Yana) laboratory at the Institute for Biogenesis Research (IBR), John A. Burns School of Medicine, University in Hawaii, and worked with him briefly as a pre-doctoral and then as a post-doctoral Researcher pursuing studies aiming to develop unconventional methods for mouse sperm preservation. In 2003 she established her independent laboratory in the IBR. In 2006 she was hired as a tenure-rack Assistant Professor and rose through ranks obtaining tenure in 2012 and a Professor position in 2015. 

Research Interests

Dr. Ward has been working in the field of reproductive and developmental biology and genetics of male infertility for more than 20 years. The Ward Lab overall research focus is on spermatogenesis and male fertility/infertility. Other interests include the origin of sperm DNA damage and its consequences for fertilization and the effects of assisted reproduction technologies (ART) on embryonic and fetal development. Currently the primary interest is on the genetic aspects of spermatogenesis, and particularly the role on Y chromosome encoded genes in spermatogenesis and sperm function. We are exploring how the ‘genetic composition’ of sperm translates on its ability to participate in successful normal and assisted fertilization. The findings from Ward laboratory highlighted the roles of several mouse Y chromosome genes in meiotic progression, sperm formation, and postmeiotic chromatin remodeling. Her group also identified the minimum Y chromosome complement necessary for successful assisted reproduction and has shown that the function of these ‘minimal’ genes can be replaced by genetic manipulation of genes encoded on other chromosomes. The Ward Lab utilizes advanced techniques of germ cell, gamete, and embryo manipulation combined with cytogenetic and molecular biology techniques. 

Selected Publications