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Northwestern University

Leadership and Staff

Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD


Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD is the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Vice Chair for Research (OB/GYN) and the Chief of the Division of Reproductive Science in Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine. She is also Professor of Molecular Biosciences at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University. She is an internationally recognized expert in ovarian biology and is renowned for her research on the endocrine hormones (activin and inhibin), methods to grow ovarian follicles and reproductive tract organs in vitro, and metal signaling in the oocyte and early embryo. Dr. Woodruff is committed to education at all levels. In her laboratory, Dr. Woodruff leads a large group of scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduates, visiting scholars and technicians. She founded the Women’s Health Science Program (WHSP) and directs the Oncofertility Saturday Academy (OSA), one of several high school outreach programs that engages girls in basic and medical sciences. The OSA program has been disseminated nationally as well and there are four additional universities that offer the Oncofertility Saturday Academy curriculum. She was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring in an Oval Office ceremony (2011).  Dr. Woodruff has also created the brand new Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine (MS-RSM) program at Northwestern that will start in 2016. Dr. Woodruff also serves as the founding director of the Women's Health Research Institute whose mission is ‘science to care’ and ensuring that sex and gender are part of the research mission.  Because of her work in inclusion, she was recently interviewed by Leslie Stahl and was highlighted on a 60 Minutes report and has written extensively on inclusion of sex and gender in science and medicine in PNAS and Nature. Dr. Woodruff interweaves this passion for reproductive science and medicine and education into CRS activities.

Francesca E. Duncan, PhD

Executive Director

Francesca E. Duncan, PhD has spent her research career focusing on female reproductive health. She graduated from Haverford College with a BS in Biology and Biochemistry and earned her doctorate in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked in Dr. Teresa Woodruff’s laboratory at Northwestern (2009-2014) where she transitioned from a post-doctoral fellow to an Assistant Research Professor. She then established an independent research program as an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology (2014-2016) before being recruited back to Northwestern in her current position. With Dr. Woodruff, Dr. Duncan is now directing the Center for Reproductive Science at Northwestern, bringing together the reproductive science and medicine communities across the institution through collaborative research, funding and teaching. She is also a course director in Northwestern’s newly launched Master of Science of Reproductive Science and Medicine (MS-RSM) program. Dr. Duncan maintains an active research program. Research in the Duncan laboratory tests the overarching hypothesis that deterioration of gamete-intrinsic cellular pathways together with changes in the ovarian microenvironment contribute to the reproductive age-associated decline in egg quantity and quality.

Beth Sefton, PhD

Program Administrator and Director of Graduate Studies, MS-RSM

Dr. Sefton is the Director of Graduate Studies for the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine (MS-RSM) program. She handles all aspects of the program from recruiting and interviewing applicants to developing curriculum and everything in between. The MS-RSM program interfaces closely with CRS as the majority of MS-RSM instructors are CRS members and all MS-RSM students engage in CRS activities. Before coming to the MS-RSM program, Dr. Sefton served as Program Director of Dr. Woodruff's Ex-vivo Female Reproductive Tract project aimed to develop 3D microfluidic cell culture systems for the female reproductive tract. Dr. Sefton joined the Woodruff Enterprise in 2013 after finishing her PhD in Julie Kim’s Lab at Northwestern University. She studied the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway in uterine leioyoma. While a graduate student, Beth was an active member of CRS and a leader of the Chicago Graduate Student Association (CGSA). Beth earned her Bachelors of Science from the University of Tampa in 2007. 

Pamela Monahan, PhD

Lecturer, MS-RSM

Pamela Monahan, PhD is a lecturer in the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences (2000-2004) and went on to complete her Master of Science and Doctorate in Molecular and Integrative Physiology (2005-2011) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the laboratory of Dr. Lori Raetzman. In 2011 she joined the CRS community as a postdoctoral fellow, in the laboratory of Dr. Kelly Mayo, where she worked on signaling pathway interactions in the ovary and imaging placental dysfunction in a rat model of preeclampsia. In the MS-RSM program, she will be teaching the lecture courses Repr_Sci 405: Female Reproductive Physiology and Endocrinology and Repr_Sci 507: Male Reproductive Physiology and Endocrinology as well as directing the laboratory research courses Repr_Sci 442: Reproductive Research I and Repr_Sci 443: Reproductive Research II.

Chelsea Castleberry

Program Assistant

Chelsea Castleberry joined the Center for Reproductive Science and the Woodruff Lab in July 2016 as a Program Assistant. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Health Policy Studies with a focus in Biology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Prior to joining Northwestern, she held an internship with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control. She then worked in Ann Arbor, MI, in Health Policy Research, focusing on projects contracted with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Chelsea helps support all administrative tasks including programming for CRS events and website development.

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