Monika A. Ward

Affiliation: School of Medicine, Institute for Biogenesis Research
Position: Professor
Degree: MS, PhD (Poznan University, Poland)
Phone: (808) 956 0779
Fax: (808) 956 7316
Address: 1960 East-West Rd, Room E104, Honolulu, HI 96822

Research projects:

Sperm Genetics and Function in Fertilization

Description of research:

Assisted reproduction enables achieving fertilization when normal conception does not occur due to a variety of gamete defects. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is the injection of a single spermatozoon directly into the cytoplasm of an oocyte using an injection pipette. This technique has been applied successfully in the treatment of infertile couples and is now widely used as a method of human assisted reproduction (ART). In addition to its obvious role in overcoming the infertility, ICSI is also an excellent tool allowing exploring new venues of reproductive biology. It provides a unique opportunity to examine the mechanisms underlying male infertility by looking into the reproductive potentials of individual spermatozoa.

The primary research interest of the lab is to study sperm genetics and function in fertilization in the context of assisted reproduction, utilizing advanced techniques of gamete and embryo micromanipulation combined with cytogenetic and molecular biology techniques, in a mouse model. The overall goal is to explore how the 'genetic composition' of sperm translates on its function in fertilization.

The ongoing projects involve:

(1) Reproducing subfertile and infertile mice with phenotypes that mimic various human male infertility syndromes to test for ART effects;

(2) Studying sperm DNA damage, its origin and consequences for fertilization and embryo development;

(3) Examining the function of the Y chromosome encoded genes in male fertility;

(4) Identifying and characterizing the mechanism of action of the Y chromosome encoded susceptibility locus mechanistically relevant to multiple sclerosis.

Figure 1. Teratozoospermia is a fertility defect expressed as an increased proportion of morphologically abnormal sperm that affects both humans and mice. Morphologically abnormal sperm (A) are often unable to fertilize oocytes rendering males infertile. Infertility can be overcome with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a method that allows injecting a spermatozoon directly into the oocyte using an injection pipette (B). The resulting embryos can be tested for their potential to develop in vitro from zygote to blastocyst stage (C), their genetic integrity evidenced by analysis of paternal or maternal chromosome complement in the zygote (D) and their potential to develop in vivo to live offspring after embryo transfer (E). Such analyses allow testing sperm function in infertile males with teratozoospermia, and can also be applied to other infertility defects.

Lab members:
Yasuhiro Yamauchi
Junior Researcher
Lab 956-5556
Office 956-5475
Jonathan M. Riel
Graduate Student
Office 956-5556
Lab 956-9761
Victor Ruthig
Graduate Student
Office 956-5556
Lab 956-9761
Egle Ortega
Graduate Student
Office 956-5556
Lab 956-9761
Selected publications: