Welcome to Developmental and Reproductive Biology (DRB)
Graduate Program Website!!!

        The Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine offers a graduate program leading to MS and PhD degrees in Developmental and Reproductive Biology. In our program, students are enganged in laboratory research and classes that integrate diverse disciplines, such as the study of:

  • Embryo development
  • Stem cells
  • Organogenesis
  • Assisted reproductive technologies (ART)
  • Gene therapy
  • Devo-Evo
  • Anatomical imaging
        Whether your goal is pure basic science or translational research, we offer opportunities that will enable you to impact biomedical science and our understanding of life!


2019 DRB Program Retreat
(November 6, 2019, Wednesday, IBR Seminar Room)

        The JABSOM Developmental and Reproductive Biology (DRB) Graduate Program Students 2019 Retreat took place on November 6 at the UH Manoa Institute of Biogenesis Research (IBR). Thirteen students (7 PhD and 6 MS) presented their work. The topics covered various aspects of reproductive and developmental biology, such as stem cells in reproduction, oogenesis, fertilization, assisted reproduction technologies, embryonic and fetal development, placentation and other aspects of pregnancy, transgenesis, behavior, etc. Faculty from the IBR, Anatomy, Biochemistry & Physiology (ABH) and Cell and Molecular Biology departments were in attendance. The meeting was highly successful, with collegial atmosphere and vivid discussions. The students' presentations were top-notch, both in respect to power point presentation quality and its oral delivery. See more about the Retreat, including photos of all students, in here.


Chantell Balaan is featured in the Garden Island (TGI)

        Chantell Balaan, a PhD candidate (Mentor: Dr. Masato Yoshizawa), is on a mission to understand how the gut microbiome affects brain function and human behavior, particularly in people with autism spectrum disorder. Her story is featured in the Garden Island, Kauai's newspaper. Read more.


Brent Fujimoto presents at American Association of Diabetes Meeting

        Brent Fujimoto, Ph.D. candidate in Developmental and Reproductive Biology, presented at the American Diabetes Association Meeting in San Francisco, CA. Mr. Fujimoto mentors are Drs. Noemi Polgar and Ben Fogelgren. The research focuses on how glucose is transported into muscle which is important for understanding diabetes.


Chantell Balaan receives the ARCS 2019 Award in Medicine

        Chantell Balaan, a PhD candidate (Mentor: Dr. Masato Yoshizawa), receives the ARCS Award in Medicine. The ARCS foundation (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) is a non-profit organization administered by a group of women, who provide scholarships and awards to support graduate and undergraduate students in science. Chantell will present her research on April 13 at UH Manoa to the ARCS members, and receives the award at the ceremony on May 6.

See also: The Garden Island, UH Med News


Students Showcase the DRB Program at the Annual Graduate & Law Schools Fair

        On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, two DRB students, Lance Nunes (left) and Nicholas Kawasaki (right), represented the program at the Annual Graduate & Law Schools Fair.


DRB Students Take Charge at JHOC Conference

        On Saturday, September 30, 2017, DRB graduate students and their undergraduate student helpers took part in the Joint Healthcare Opportunities Conference (JHOC) and organized Hands-on Activity Session, "Help me conceive! Fertility workshop" for the local middle and high school students. See more details in here.


Students Showcase the DRB Program at "What's Next at Manoa"

        On Thursday, October 26, 2017, DRB student team gave undergraduate students a personable glimpse into what the DRB program offers and how it may contribute to their academic growth. See more details in here.


Recent Publications (2015-2017) by DRB Graduate Students

         Names of the DRB students are underlined.


  • Fujimoto BA, Young M, Carter L, Pang APS, Corley MJ, Fogelgren B, Polgar N.(2019) The exocyst complex regulates insulin-stimulated glucose uptake of skeletal muscle cells. American Journal of Physiology (Endocrinology and Metabolism). doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00109.2019. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Hew BE, Sato R, Mauro D, Stoytchev I, Owens JB.(2019) RNA-guided piggyBac transposition in human cells. Synthetic Biology (Oxford, England). 4:ysz018.
  • Riel JM, Yamauchi Y, Ruthig VA, Malinta QU, Blanco M, Moretti C, Cocquet J, Ward MA. (2019) Rescue of Sly Expression Is Not Sufficient to Rescue Spermiogenic Phenotype of Mice with Deletions of Y Chromosome Long Arm. Genes 10. pii: E133.
  • Ortega EA, Salvador Q, Fernandez M, Ward MA. (2019) Alterations of sex determination pathway in the genital ridges of males with limited Y chromosome genes. Biology of Reproduction 100:810-823.
  • Balaan C, Corley MJ, Eulalio T, Leite-Ahyo K, Pang APS, Fang R, Khadka VS, Maunakea AK, Ward MA. (2019) Juvenile Shank3b deficient mice present with behavioral phenotype relevant to autism spectrum disorder. Behavioural Brain Research 356:137-147.
  • Fernandes VFL, Macaspac C, Lu L, Yoshizawa M. (2018) Evolution of the developmental plasticity and a coupling between left mechanosensory neuromasts and an adaptive foraging behavior. Developmental Biology 441(2):262-271.
  • Warkus EL, Marikawa Y. (2018) Fluoxetine inhibits canonical Wnt signaling to impair embryoid body morphogenesis: potential teratogenic mechanisms of a commonly used antidepressant. Toxicological Sciences 165(2):372-388.
  • Davy PMC, Willcox DC, Shimabukuro M, Donlon TA, Torigoe T, Suzuki M, Higa M, Masuzaki H, Sata M, Chen R, Murkofsky RL, Morris BJ, Lim E, Allsopp RC, Willcox BJ. (2018) Minimal shortening of leukocyte telomere length across age groups in a cross-sectional study for carriers of a longevity-associated FOXO3 allele. The Journals of Gerontology 73(11):1448-1452.
  • Kim IQ, Marikawa Y. (2018) Embryoid body test with morphological and molecular endpoints implicates potential developmental toxicity of trans-resveratrol. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 355:211-225.
  • Ruthig VA, Nielsen T, Riel JM, Yamauchi Y, Ortega EA, Salvador Q, Ward MA. (2017) Testicular abnormalities in mice with Y chromosome deficiencies. Biology of Reproduction 96:694-706.
  • Ulu F, Kim SM, Yokoyama T, Yamazaki Y. (2017) Dose-dependent functions of fibroblast growth factor 9 regulate the fate of murine XY primordial germ cells. Biology of Reproduction 96:122-133.
  • Warkus EL, Marikawa Y. (2017) Exposure-Based validation of an in vitro gastrulation model for developmental toxicity assays. Toxicological Sciences 157:235-245.
  • Nguyen H, James NG, Nguyen L, Nguyen TP, Vuong C, Ortega MA, Jameson DM, Ward WS. (2017) Higher order oligomerization of the licensing ORC4 protein is required for polar body extrusion in murine meiosis. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry [in press].
  • Ruthig VA, Labrash S, Lozanoff S, Ward MA. (2016) Macroscopic demonstration of the male urogenital system with evidence of a direct inguinal hernia utilizing room temperature plastination. Anatomy 10:211-220.
  • Li AS, Marikawa Y. (2016) Adverse effect of valproic acid on an in vitro gastrulation model entails activation of retinoic acid signaling. Reproductive Toxicology 66:68-83.
  • Yamauchi Y, Riel JM, Ruthig VA, Ortega E, Mitchell MJ, Ward MA. (2016) Two genes substitute for the mouse Y chromosome for spermatogenesis and reproduction. Science 351:514-516. [the first 3 authors contributed equally]
  • Lee AJ, Polgar N, Napoli JA, Lui VH, Tamashiro KK, Fujimoto BA, Thompson KS, Fogelgren B. (2016) Fibroproliferative response to urothelial failure obliterates the ureter lumen in a mouse model of prenatal congenital obstructive nephropathy. Scientific Reports 6:31137.
  • Takahashi N, Davy PM, Gardner LH, Mathews J, Yamazaki Y, Allsopp RC. (2016) Hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha is expressed in germ cells throughout the murine life cycle. PLOS One 11:e0154309.
  • Warkus EL, Yuen AA, Lau CL, Marikawa Y. (2016) Use of In Vitro Morphogenesis of Mouse Embryoid Bodies to Assess Developmental Toxicity of Therapeutic Drugs Contraindicated in Pregnancy. Toxicological Sciences 149:15-30.
  • Ortega MA, Ko M, Marh J, Finberg A, Oshiro M, Ward WS. (2016) Presence of the paternal pronucleus assists embryo in overcoming cycloheximide induced abnormalities in zygotic mitosis. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 117:1806-1812.
  • Ortega MA, Nguyen H, Ward WS. (2016) ORC proteins in the mammalian zygote. Cell and Tissue Research 363:195-200.
  • Yamauchi Y, Riel JM, Ruthig VA, Ward MA (2015). Mouse Y-encoded Transcription Factor Zfy2 is Essential for Sperm Formation and Function in Assisted Fertilization. PLoS Genetics 11:e1005476.
  • Ortega EA, Ruthig VA, Ward MA. (2015) Sry-Independent Overexpression of Sox9 Supports Spermatogenesis and Fertility in the Mouse. Biology of Reproduction 93:141.
  • Gawecka JE, Boaz S, Kasperson K, Nguyen H, Evenson DP, Ward WS. (2015) Luminal fluid of epididymis and vas deferens contributes to sperm chromatin fragmentation. Human Reproduction 30:2725-2736.
  • Li AS, Marikawa Y. (2015) An in vitro gastrulation model recapitulates the morphogenetic impact of pharmacological inhibitors of developmental signaling pathways. Molecular Reproduction and Development 82:1015-1036.
  • Higuchi CM, Maeda Y, Horiuchi T, Yamazaki Y. (2015) A Simplified Method for Three-Dimensional (3-D) Ovarian Tissue Culture Yielding Oocytes Competent to Produce Full-Term Offspring in Mice. PLoS One 10:e0143114.
  • Fogelgren B, Polgar N, Lui VH, Lee AJ, Tamashiro KK, Napoli JA, Walton CB, Zuo X, Lipschutz JH. (2015) Urothelial defects from targeted inactivation of exocyst Sec10 in mice cause ureteropelvic junction obstructions. PLoS One 10:e0129346.
  • Polgar N, Lee AJ, Lui VH, Napoli JA, Fogelgren B. (2015) The exocyst gene Sec10 regulates renal epithelial monolayer homeostasis and apoptotic sensitivity. American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology 309:C190-201.
  • Nguyen H, Ortega MA, Ko M, Marh J, Ward WS. (2015) ORC4 surrounds extruded chromatin in female meiosis. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 116:778-786.


Important Notice to All Students

        The DRB Graduate Program Committee has recently issued the following two documents to define the nature of PhD and Master degrees (Plan A/B) in our program:

- Degrees offered in the DRB Graduate Program
- Master Plan A Research Criteria

These are relevant and applicable to both current as well as incoming students.