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Regulation of human sperm behaviour by stimuli from the female tract

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Factors regulating the behaviour of human sperm
Sperm motility is crucial to sperm function and male fertility. Our work, which is being carried out in collaboration with the School of Medicine at Birmingham, the Assisted Conception Unit at the Birmingham Women’s Hospital and Ninewells Hospital Dundee, is focused on the functional significance of the various behaviours of human sperm and their regulation by the female reproductive tract and by oocyte-derived factors. Ca2+ signalling is central to many sperm activities, including motility and its failure may underlie a significant proportion of male-factor infertility. We are particularly interested in the expression and regulation of Ca2+ stores and Ca2+ influx channels by human sperm and their use to ‘select’ specific behaviours in response to cues from their environment. Techniques involved in this work include sperm tracking, computer-assisted semen analysis, [Ca2+]i imaging, fluorimetric analysis of intracellular ion concentrations, second messenger assays and use of antibodies to assess and localise expression of proteins.

Key words: human sperm; motility, Ca2+ signalling, fertilisation

Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.
The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, NERC) PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are normally only available to UK nationals (or EU nationals resident in the UK) but part-funded studentships may be available to EU applicants resident outside of the UK. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is 31 January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also 31 January each year.

Funding Notes

All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. We have a thriving community of international PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students able to find their own funding or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship, Islamic Development Bank).

The postgraduate funding database provides further information on funding opportunities available View Website and further information is also available on the School of Biosciences website View Website


• Alasmari, W, Costello S, Correia J, OxenhamS, Morris J, Fernandes L, Ramalho-Santos J, Kirkman-Brown J, Michelangeli F, Publicover S, Barratt C (2013) Ca2+ signals generated by CatSper and Ca2+ stores regulate different behaviours in human sperm J. Biol Chem 288, 6248-6258

• Lefièvre L, Nash K, Mansell S, Costello S, Punt E, Correia J, Morris J, Kirkman-Brown J, Wilson SM, Barratt CL, Publicover S. (2012) 2-APB-potentiated channels amplify CatSper-induced Ca2+ signals in human sperm. Biochem J. 448:189-200

• Machado-Oliveira,G, Linda Lefièvre, L, Ford, WCL, Herrero, MB, Barratt, CLR, Connolly, T, Nash, K, Morales-Garcia, A, Kirkman-Brown, J, Publicover, SJ. (2008) Mobilisation of Ca2+ stores and flagellar regulation in human sperm by S-nitrosylation: a role for NO synthesised in the female tract. Development 135, 3677-3686

• Publicover, SJ, Harper CV, Barratt, CLR (2007) [Ca2+]i signalling in sperm - making the most of what you’ve got. Nature Cell Biol 9:235-42

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

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

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