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Ken Roberts, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Translational Medicine and Physiology


  • BS, Chemistry/Biology, Western Washington University
  • PhD, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Washington State University
  • Postdoctoral Training, Reproductive Biology, Johns Hopkins University


Dr. Roberts is Chair of the Department of Translational Medicine and Physiology. In this role, Dr. Roberts supports a dynamic faculty spanning interests from neuroscience, sleep and cognition, neuro-immunology, cancer, and reproduction. The department’s name encompasses its goal to investigate basic physiological mechanism at the molecular, cellular, and whole organism levels and translate findings to address issues of human health and wellness.


Dr. Roberts teaches anatomy, histology, and biochemistry to medical students.  His primary research interest is spermatogenesis, and sperm maturation and function with application to male infertility and contraception. His lab takes a systems biology approach to sperm function and maturation. Recent work in the lab focuses on the metabolic potential of the haploid male gamete.


Dr. Roberts came to WSU in 2008 to direct the new WWAMI Medical Education Program. The faculty hired for this program became the inaugural faculty of the current department of Translational Medicine and Physiology. Dr. Roberts served as the Acting Dean of the College of Medical Sciences, the precursor to the College of Medicine. He then served as Vice Dean for Academic & Community Partnerships in the College of Medicine.

Dr. Roberts was one of the WSU leaders who worked with the late President Elson S. Floyd to convince the Washington legislature to amend a 1917 state law and authorize the creation of a medical school at WSU. He then helped lead the work to establish the College of Medicine, now one of 11 WSU colleges. He has been recognized for this work at WSU by receiving the President’s Award for Leadership (2014) and the Faculty Excellence Award for WSU Spokane (2015).

Dr. Roberts came to WSU Spokane from the University of Minnesota, where he was a faculty member in the Departments of Urologic Surgery and Integrative Biology and Physiology. Throughout his fifteen-year career at the University of Minnesota Medical School, he served in teaching, research, and administration positions, including as director of the Program in Human Anatomy Education and director of basic research at the Department of Urologic Surgery. In 2004 and 2008 he was honored with medical school-wide teaching awards in basic science.


Roberts KP and Chauvin TR 2019  Molecular mechanisms of testosterone action on the testis.  Current Opinion in Endocrine and Metabolic Research 6:29-33

Roberts KP and Chauvin T 2018  Gene regulation in the epididymis.  Encyclopedia of Reproduction, 2nd Edition, Elsevier, Inc. (Skinner, MK ed.) 1:298-304

Graham J, Benson LM, Swanson J, , Potyk D, Daratha K, Roberts K. 2016 Medical Humanities Coursework Is Associated with Greater Measured Empathy in Medical Students. American Journal of Medicine 129: 1334-1337.

Olson DJ, Gore JL, Daratha KB, Roberts KP. 2016 Travel Burden and the Direct Medical Costs of Urologic Surgery. 2016 Journal of Health Economics and Outcomes Research 4:47-54

T, Xie F, Liu T, Nicora CD, Yang F, Camp DG, Smith RD and Roberts KP 2012 A Systematic Analysis of a Deep Mouse Epididymal Sperm Proteome. Biology of Reproduction 87(6):1-8.

Vadnais ML and Roberts KP. 2010 Seminal Plasma Proteins Inhibit In vitro and Cooling Induced Capacitation in Boar Sperm. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 22(6):893-900

Ken Roberts
Ken Roberts, PhD
Professor and Chair

Michelle Sanchez
Administrative and Business Manager