Starting his career in 1972 as he attended Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India, Ashok Agarwal gained his BSc in 1975, MSc in 1977, and his doctoral degree in 1983. He conducted his research in the Reproductive Physiology Laboratory of Professor CJ Dominic, a well-known leader in mammalian reproductive pheromones, mammalian reproduction, and fertility control. His doctoral research centered on investigating the epididymal histology, histochemistry, and biochemistry of several locally available mammalian species from a comparative point of view. The intense training he received as part of his doctoral dissertation was instrumental in deciding his future career choice in the area of mammalian reproductive biology. An immediate flip to his career came when he was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation in New York. Beginning his training in the summer of 1984 at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, he worked in the Urology Research Laboratory of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Early research published from Harvard was centered on investigating the anti-fertility effects of gossypol in animal models and then on male contraception. This widening background strengthened his focus on male infertility and andrology. He recalls with pleasure the wonderful stimulus he received while working with his senior colleague and close friend in Harvard, Dr Kevin R Loughlin, currently Professor of Urology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Kevin is an urologist and his inquisitive mind has a flair for simplifying complex basic science research into clinically relevant information. His post-doctoral training now complete, Ashok gained valuable experience in managing a busy clinical facility from 1986. Appointed Director of the Clinical Andrology Laboratory in Newton, Massachusetts, he became Instructor in Surgery in the Division of Urology at Harvard in 1988, and Coordinator of the Andrology Division in the Reproductive Endocrinology Laboratory. Studying andrology and directing and conducting research in male infertility gave him newer and wider research skills, which led Harvard to promote him to Assistant Professor in the Division of Urology and Director of Male Infertility Research.
Recruited by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio in 1993 as Head of Andrology, Ashok built the Clinical Andrology Laboratory from the ground up as one of the finest diagnostic facilities of its kind in the United States. It provides a full range of diagnostic modalities for infertile couples and reproductive tissue banking (cryopreservation) facilities for patients with cancer. Ashok is a board certified Clinical Laboratory Director in Andrology by the American Board of Bioanalysis and an Inspector for the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Reproductive Laboratory Accreditation Program. As the Director of Research at the Center for Reproductive Medicine, his program has trained a large numbers of clinicians, scientists, and technicians in andrology, male infertility, embryology and in all facets of male and female reproductive endocrinology in a joint research program with both Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute and OB-GYN and Women’s Health Institute. He is a Professor at the Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University and, since 1993, Senior Staff in Urology, OB-GYN, Anatomic Pathology, and Immunology.
Ashok remains fully active in basic and clinical research. More than 100 basic scientists and clinical researchers have been trained and 100 or more medical, undergraduate, and high school students have worked in his laboratory. His research interests now include the role of molecular markers (oxidative stress, DNA integrity, and apoptosis) in the pathophysiology of male and female reproduction, effect of radiofrequency radiation from cell phones on human reproduction and cryopreservation of sperm and ovaries from patients with cancer. He remains passionate about his work as he focuses his laboratory on addressing issues directly bearing on the treatment of patients with infertility or sexual dysfunction.
A prodigious writer, Ashok has published more than 400 scientific papers and review articles in peer-reviewed journals and over 50 book chapters. In addition, his laboratory has presented over 700 papers at national and international scientific meetings. He is now a member and office bearer of several professional societies, including the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, American Society of Andrology, American Urological Association, Society for the Study of Male Reproduction, Society for the Study of Male Reproduction and Urology, and Society for Basic Urologic Research. Serving on the Editorial Board of the Andrologia, Annals of Saudi Medicine, Asian Journal of Andrology, Clinics, Fertility and Sterility, Human Fertility, Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, International Brazilian Journal of Urology, International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, Journal of Clinical Embryology, National Journal of Andrology, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, Reproductive Biology & Endocrinology and Reproductive Sciences Journal. He is also an ad hoc reviewer for over 50 journals. Often invited as a guest speaker to more than 20 countries, he has directed a dozen or more andrology laboratory and ART workshops. The research program at The Cleveland Clinic is now accepted as a leader in research into reproductive medicine in the USA and by prestigious programs worldwide. Information about his research could be viewed at URL: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/ReproductiveResearchCenter/
His wife, Meenu, is a great supporter of his work. He loves to spend time with his family, including his sons, Rishi and Neil. Ashok likes traveling and meeting people, enjoys gardening, and retains his philosophy of life. He advises juniors to strive for the best and how the difference between extraordinary and ordinary is just ‘extra’