Monika A. Ward, PhD


  • Affiliation: Institute for Biogenesis Research
    Department of Anatomy
    Biochemistry and Physiology
    John A. Burns School of Medicine
    University of Hawaii
  • Graduate Faculty
    Chair, Developmental and Reproductive Biology (DRB)
    Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB)
  • Adjunct Faculty
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
    John A. Burns School of Medicine
    University of Hawaii
  • Phone: (808) 956-0779
  • Fax: (808) 956-7316
  • Email:
  • Address:
    IBR, 1960 East-West Rd, Room E104, Honolulu, HI 96822

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

  • Victor A. Ruthig, Torbjoern Nielsen, Jonathan M. Riel, Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Egle A. Ortega, Quinci Salvador, Monika A. Ward (2017): Testicular abnormalities in mice with Y chromosome deficiencies. Biology of Reproduction, 96(3): 694-706. Pubmed PMID: 28339606.
  • Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Jonathan M Riel, Victor Ruthig, Monika A Ward (2015): Mouse Y-encoded transcription factor Zfy2 is essential for sperm formation and function in assisted fertilization. PLoS Genetics 11(12): e1005476. Dec 31, 2015. Pubmed PMID: 26719889.
  • Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Jonathan M. Riel, Zoia Stoytcheva, Monika A. Ward (2013): Two Y chromosome genes can replace the entire Y chromosome for assisted reproduction in the mouse. Science (Epub Nov 21 2013) 343(6166): 69-72. Pubmed PMID: 24263135.
  • Jonathan M. Riel, Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Atsushi Sugawara, Ho Yan J Li, Victor Ruthig, Zoia Stoytcheva, Peter J. I. Ellis, Julie Cocquet, Monika A. Ward (2012): Deficiency of the multi-copy mouse Y gene Sly causes sperm DNA damage and abnormal chromatin packaging. Journal of Cell Science. Epub Nov 23 2012. Pubmed PMID: 23178944.
  • Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Jonathan M. Riel, Zoia Stoytcheva, Paul S. Burgoyne, Monika A. Ward (2010): Deficiency in mouse Y chromosome long arm gene complement is associated with sperm DNA damage. Genome Biology. 11:R66. EPub 2010 Jun 23. Pubmed PMID: 20573212