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Leadership and Staff

Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD


Teresa WoodruffTeresa K. Woodruff, PhD is the Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education in The Graduate School at Northwestern University. She is also the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Vice Chair for Research and the Chief of the Division of Reproductive Science in Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg School of Medicine. She is Professor of Molecular Biosciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering. She is the Director of the Center for Reproductive Science (CRS), Founder and Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI), and Director of the Oncofertility Consortium. She is an internationally recognized expert in ovarian biology and, in 2006, coined the term “oncofertility” to describe the merging of two fields: oncology and fertility. She now heads the Oncofertility Consortium, an interdisciplinary team of biomedical and social scientist experts from across the country. She has been active in education not only at the professional level but also with high school students. To this end, she founded and directs the Oncofertility Saturday Academy (OSA), one of several high school outreach programs that engages girls in basic and medical sciences.  She was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring in an oval office ceremony by President Obama (2011). Widely recognized for her work, Woodruff holds 10 U.S. Patents, and in 2013 she was named to Time magazine’s ‘Most Influential Persons’ list. Some of her recent awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship (2017), the Society forEndocrinology Transatlantic Medal (2017), and a Leadership Award from the Endocrine Society (2017).  She has two honorary degrees including one from the University of Birmingham, College of Medical, UK (2016). She is an elected fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She is past-president of the Endocrine Society and championed the new NIH policy that mandates the use of females in fundamental research.  She is civically active and is an elected member of The Economic Club of Chicago and on the school board of the Chicago-based Young Women’s Leadership Charter School. Dr. Woodruff interweaves her passion for reproductive science and medicine and education into CRS activities.

Francesca E. Duncan, PhD

Executive Director

Francesca DuncanFrancesca 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 an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and directs 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

Beth SeftonDr. Beth 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


Pam MonahanPamela Monahan, PhD, is a lecturer in the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine program. 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.

Shannon O'Malley

Program Assistant

Shannon O’Malley joined the Center for Reproductive Science and the Woodruff Lab in February 2019 as a Program Assistant. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a minor in Business from Villanova University. Prior to joining Northwestern, she worked at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA in the Division of Philanthropy and the Jimmy Fund. She supported fundraising efforts for the Susan Smith Center for Women’s Cancers and the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. Shannon now supports all administrative tasks of the CRS, including planning large-scale lectures and events,  coordinating travel for visiting speakers, designing promotional material for the Center, and managing social media and website development. Shannon also assists Dr. Sefton with the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine program.