JABSOM’s Dr. Monika Ward Named Distinguished Fellow of Society for the Study of Reproduction

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For many years, the John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Institute for Biogenesis Research has been known as one of the best centers in the world for mouse reproductive biology. Now, Dr. Monika Ward, one of the IBR leaders, is recognized for her significant impact and sustained contributions to reproductive biology.

The Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) has named Dr. Ward a distinguished fellow, putting her in an exclusive class of scientists who made outstanding contributions to the field of reproductive biology.

The IBR is one of the best places in the world to learn how to inject a sperm into an egg and mouse cloning because the techniques were developed there. Dr. Ward’s recognition is just another example that the IBR Center has some of the best people in the world.

For over a decade, Dr. Ward’s lab has made groundbreaking strides in mouse reproduction with tremendous implications for reproductive biology.

Dr. Ward studies the genetics of the Y-chromosome gene and looks closer at what makes a “male” a “male.” In mice, only two genes from the Y-chromosome are necessary for a male mouse. Dr. Ward made a male mouse that had no Y-chromosome genes. It had amplified genes of those two genes related to it on the x-chromosome. Since females have x-chromosomes, Dr. Ward proved that all the genes necessary to make a male mouse a male are not on the Y-chromosome.

“What is on the Y-chromosome genes are the things that actually form the sperm itself. You can make a male that gets all the way to myosis and haploid genome without those genes,” Dr. Ward said.

Monika’s journey began in 1999 when she moved from Poland to Hawaiʻi as a graduate student, looking to work in Dr. Ryuzo Yanagimachi’s lab. At the time, he didn’t have a spot for her but encouraged her to write for fellowships and grants. After writing for four or five grants, Dr. Yanagimachi was impressed with Dr. Ward’s determination and, the following year, hired her.

Dr. Ward went on to become JABSOM faculty, started publishing, and formed her own lab. She’s been published in many high-quality publications and has quietly made an incredible impact in the reproductive biology field based on that alone.

Before being named a distinguished fellow, Dr. Ward served on the SSR Committee for five years and sits on the editorial board of the prestigious Biology of Reproduction journal.