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Calcium signalling in in-vitro fertilization


Project Description

The aim of this project is to capture the complex interplay of Ca2+ signalling and the cytoplasmic spasms in eggs and make advances that could inform future experiments and ultimately clinical practice.

Background
Calcium (Ca2+) is a life and death signal, the most important second messenger in the body, carrying important information across all our cells. It also plays an essential role in embryo development, beginning at fertilisation when fast Ca+ waves sweep through the egg after sperm fusion and later in embryogenesis, during tissue contractions and movements. These fast waves, or Ca2+ transients, are crucial for the embryo development and the number and pattern of Ca2+ increases is a predictor of the viability of the embryo. Critically, recent experimental evidence has accumulated showing that each Ca2+ increase in the egg causes mechanical effects which can be detected as slight ‘spasms’ in the egg cytoplasm. These cytoplasmic spasms are of particular interest because they could be used to predict which embryo is most likely to go on to give a viable pregnancy. However, surprisingly, very few mathematical modelling efforts have been made in this area. In this project we will analyse experimental data and develop sophisticated mechanochemical mathematical models.

The project has great potential to advance the field of IVF (In-Vitro-Fertilization) with new diagnostic tools. A patent has been granted (to Cambridge Enterprise Ltd) based on experiments in which the Swann lab was involved, but its future is uncertain because of lack of quantitative progress in the field. Therefore, the project is timely and cutting edge as it will provide the mathematical tools to enable the technology to progress. Furthermore, the spatiotemporal dynamics of Ca2+ and cell contractility play a key role in the cutting-edge areas of wound healing and cancer invasion and the results could also be applied in these fields.

Th eproject will be co-supervised by Professor Karl Swann, School of Biosciences

Funding Notes

UK Research Council eligibility conditions apply.
Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education.

References

Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University Online Application Service.
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/funding/view/epsrc-doctoral-training-partnership-phd-in-mathematics

Applicants should select Doctor of Philosophy (Mathematics) with an entry date of October 2019

In the "Research proposal and Funding" section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided.

Please select “No, I am not self-funding my research” when asked whether you are self-funding your research.

Please add “EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership PhD in Mathematics" when asked "Please provide the name of the funding you are applying for".

How good is research at Cardiff University in Mathematical Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.05

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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