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Mathematical Modelling of the Bovine Reproductive Cycle

Project Description

This project will create mathematical models of aspects of the reproductive cycle of cows. The techniques used will include systems of ordinary differential equations, linear algebra, and networks/graphs. Existing models will be improved and new models will be developed and studied, based on data produced by the Polish partners.
To date there exists a variety of mathematical models of specific hormonal responses of individual hormones to other hormone changes, and models depicting a ’broader picture’ by simultaneous modelling of behaviour of many hormones and ovarian structures over time. These mathematical models can be used to investigate in vivo interactions between ovarian structures’ growth, hormone concentration and parameter values (for instance hormone production or clearance rates). The estrus cycle entails complex interactions and feedback loops between a large number of regulatory factors. The development of mathematical models, derived from robust in vitro data and validated in vivo, allows us to describe and simulate the normal function of the cycle and investigate the mechanisms causing fertility problems or the occurrence of double ovulation. The approach allows changing one parameter at a time to simulate specific hypothesized mechanisms.
This research project aims to use mathematical modelling to enhance our understanding of the bovine reproductive cycle, to specifically address:
(1) Describing mechanisms controlling roles of bovine follicles and hormones in double ovulation; and
(2) Investigating the pathways activated/inactivated during atresia using gene regulatory matrices to describe the interaction between genes/proteins and hormones.
In addition to mathematical novelty, the attainment of these objectives would significantly contribute to advancing the state of knowledge in reproductive management of cattle, and provides a potential model for exploration of treatments of fertility problems in women.

Funding Notes

Bursaries have two elements:
a.Maintenance grant €13,000 p.a.
b.Tuition fees (currently €819 p.a.) will be paid by the Institute for all holders of student bursaries. Students are liable for their registration fee. The registration fee for 2019-2020 8 is €3,000 p.a. This will be deducted from maintenance grant, with the balance - €10k paid directly to the awardee’s account, monthly. Annual Award: €13,819
A further allocation for consumables may be made, on a case-by-case basis, up to €2k p/a for desk-based projects and €4k p/a for laboratory/field based projects, available for drawdown during the bursary period, but no later.

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