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DNA missiles

The natural and unnatural history of sperm

Sperm have one aim in life: to deliver a set of male chromosomes to the egg. It sounds so straightforward but it is a journey fraught with difficulties. Contrary to what one might imagine, females do not like sperm. They are foreign bodies and potentially dangerous and best kept at a distance, or at least under control. The result of this difference in interests between the sexes has been the evolution of almost unbelievable diversity in sperm size, shape and function across the animal (and plant) kingdom. Understanding the evolutionary forces that design sperm is fundamental to dealing with applied problems, including male reproductive health and assisted conception. Are human sperm counts declining? If so, why and what are the fertility implications of reduced sperm numbers? Who actually gives and who receives sperm? What are implications of donating sperm – is it anonymous – should it always be anonymous? Are there risks to women receiving donated sperm? How confident can you be that a baby fathered by donated sperm will be fit and healthy?

Join Allan Pacey, Tim Birkhead and Juliet Tizzard in this discussion to address these and other questions.


Prof Tim Birkhead | talks | www
Dr Allan Pacey | talks | www
Dr Juliet Tizzard | talks | www


Date and Time:

7 October 2004 at 7:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



The Royal Institution of Great Britain
21 Albemarle Street
+44 20 74 09 29 92

More at The Royal Institution of Great Britain...



£8 standard, £5 concessions

Available from:

020 7409 2992

Additional Information:

Nearest tube: Green Park

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