Mathematical assessment of sperm motility

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Mathematics


Motility, the ability of sperm to move through fluid, is vital to natural and many forms of assisted conception. However, diagnostic methods are restricted to visual assessment and manual counting. This project will develop mathematical methods to analyse the motility of multiple cells from high framerate imaging. Specific tasks will include capturing the motion of the cells, solving the fluid dynamics equations (Stokes flow) with multiple cells to yield measures of metabolic requirements, and integration of data to yield diagnostically-useful information.

This project is in the area of Mathematical Sciences (Continuum Mechanics, Numerical Analysis, Mathematical Biology) and aligns with the theme of Healthcare Technologies.


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Hall-McNair A (2019) Efficient implementation of elastohydrodynamics via integral operators in Physical Review Fluids

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509590/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1955613 Studentship EP/N509590/1 25/09/2017 31/03/2021 Atticus Hall-McNair
Description Many biological cells, such as sperm or bacteria, use flagellum in order to swim through their viscous-fluid surroundings. When understanding how cells move, in particular human sperm cells, it is important to consider the movement of the elastic flagellum. Experimental observation of the flagellum can be difficult, and so as mathematical biologists, we aim to create mathematical models for swimming cells in order to improve our understanding of the physics of these cells in the absence of expensive lab equipment. To this end, so far in this award we have developed a method for simulating swimming cells that gives accurate results, is versatile, and requires only modest computer resources to run. This work was recently published in Physica Review Fluids.
Exploitation Route The computational methods and code already developed are highly extensible, allowing future researchers to build on the findings of this award to, for example, model the dynamics of other cells, such as mouse sperm, or the bacterium Chlamydomonas.
Sectors Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology