Biogenesis Research - Mid-Pacific Institute

Academics News

Biogenesis Research

at The Institute for Biogenesis Research, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Posted on May 12, 2015 by Scot Allen

Mid Pacific students had the unique opportunity to witness and share in a part of genetic history at the Institute for Biogenesis Research at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. With the invitation from Dr. Steven and Monica Ward and their colleagues at the Institute, Michael Valentine's AP Biology class got the opportunity to not only see some of the latest technology for mammalian reproductive biology, but also work hands-on with many of the techniques and the specialized equipment.

The four sections included:

1) Sperm Cryopreservation: This was a hands-on experiment by Dr. Monika Ward's group in which students saw mouse sperm swimming, then froze them using liquid nitrogen.

2) IVF: (In vitro fertilization) The students observed mouse sperm fertilizing mouse eggs under the microscope. They were able to remove living sperm from the epididymis of a mouse and extract living sperm to be used for testing.

3) ICSI: (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) Students observed mouse sperm fertilizing mouse Eggs under the microscope.

4) Confocal Microscopy: Observed how the confocal microscope optically sections through a mouse oocyte that has been stained to reveal DNA replication associated proteins and the DNA.

"We of course are so thankful for the total experience of not only seeing the facilities, but also being a part of the process," said Valentine. "These seniors had the opportunity to see what's beyond the classroom. Seeing real research and being able to meet and talk to some of the brightest minds in the world was a great privilege. For myself, as their AP Biology teacher, it wasn't the tour that made it such a great experience. It was the message they shared at the end: You don't need to be the most brilliant student to do this type of research. It will help, but nothing will prepare you more than being able to dedicate your time to the subject and, most of all, possess the willingness to learn."

According to Valentine, Dr. Ward shared why he hired recent Mid-Pacific graduate Cindy Vuong '14 as a freshman for a research position. He continued to praise Vuong because she is a hard worker and is dedicated to learning. "We are so proud of her," Valentine said.

Institute for Biogenesis Research: A Brief History

The Institute for Biogenesis Research (IBR) was founded in September of 2000, and has become an extremely successful center for research in developmental and reproductive biology. It has an interesting history that makes it a great example of how the people of Hawaii use its different strengths to build a new program. Between 1967 and 1999, the career of one man, Professor Ryuzo Yanagimachi, thrived at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM). Yana, as he is affectionately and practically known at his instance by all who work with him, was recruited to Hawaii from Japan in 1967, and over the years became one of the best known researchers in mammalian reproductive biology worldwide. Scientists from all over the world made frequent trips to Hawaii to visit with and work with this great scientist. During this whole time, Yana had set up his laboratory in an old warehouse on the UHM campus. There were no windows, but plenty of space to work, and Yana thrived there. Until 1998, he was largely unknown in Hawaii. Then, in 1998, Yana's group used some of the ground breaking techniques they had developed in reproduction to perfect the cloning technique. This brought instant notoriety to his group, and the business community woke up. A coalition formed, and these leaders urged UH to establish a new institute to develop the work that Yana had started. The Castle Foundation donated $1,000,000 to support his research, and UHM built Yana a new, two story research facility to establish the new IBR. The labs opened in 2000, and has since added 14 new faculty that head up laboratories involved in research.

The IBR Today

From this initial investment, the IBR has secured over $36 million in federal research money, 80% of which goes directly into the Hawaii economy in the form of salaries and support for UH. The IBR trains students at UHM in the state-of-the-art biomedical research techniques, and boasts of the university's strongest animal genetics program and its strongest molecular biology laboratory. The IBR supports a core facility that provides genetically modified mice to Hawaii's researchers to study biomedical models for human diseases. We participate in numerous K-12 student visits to expose our youngest minds to research. The IBR also participates in research at other institutions in Hawaii including Kuakini Hospital and the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children's Health. The IBR has become one of the leading research units at UH, and is making an impact in the community.