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Leadership and Staff

Francesca E. Duncan, PhD

Co-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.

J. Julie Kim, PhD

Co-Director

jjk.jpgJ. Julie Kim, PhD, is the Susy Y. Hung Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Director of Faculty Mentorship and Development in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BS in Microbiology and earned her doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Université Laval, Quebec. She trained with Dr. Asgi Fazleabas during her postdoctoral years to study mechanisms of decidualization in the primate endometrium, and then joined Northwestern University as Assistant Professor in 2003.  Dr. Kim is an internationally recognized expert in uterine biology and studies an array of reproductive diseases as it pertains to progesterone action.  She has established projects in Endometrial Cancer, Uterine Leiomyoma, Breast Cancer, and Microphysiological Systems of the Reproductive Tract.  She is an active member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and is the Co-Director of the Cancer Biology cluster in The Graduate School at Northwestern University, and the Principal Investigator of the T32 Predoctoral Training Grant in Reproductive Science.  She has worked with and led education programs, including the Northwestern Driskill Graduate Program, the MD/PhD MSTP program, and the Master’s program in Bioengineering, as well as our Masters in Reproductive Science in Medicine (MS-RSM).  She currently directs courses for DGP in Tumor Cell Biology and for the Master’s program in Reproductive Science in Emerging Research in Reproductive Science and Medicine.

Jose Alvarado

Program Coordinator

Jose Alvarado joined the Center for Reproductive Science and the Department of Ob/Gyn in January 2021. He previously was hired by Illinois Tech as a Transfer Admission Counselor to help increase the transfer population at the institution. Jose completed his degree at Northern Illinois University and was a student athlete all 4 years. Most of his experience is in recruitment, program management, communication, student support, and event planning. Jose oversees and supports all administrative tasks and operations of CRS and the MS-RSM program, including general day-to-day processes and administration, communications, student and faculty support, recruitment, academic and curricular management, coordination of logistics for all programming and events.  

Pamela Monahan, PhD

Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and Lecturer

Pam MonahanPamela Monahan, PhD, is a lecturer in the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine program as well as Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs. 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 407: 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.

Hoi Chang Lee, PhD

Lecturer

hoi-chang-lee.jpgHoi Chang Lee, PhD, is a lecturer in the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Research Assistant Professor within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University. He earned his Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Animal Biotechnology & Biomedical Sciences. During his thesis study, his research focused on understanding the mechanisms of calcium signaling and channel pathway during fertilization. He joined the laboratory of Dr. Teresa K. Woodruff as a postdoctoral fellow where he has broadened his research interests and expertise to include mammalian ovarian follicle biology, zinc biochemistry, and oncofertility. His current projects focus on the zinc signaling during egg maturation and fertilization in various species. He joined the CRS community as a lecturer in 2016. He has covered REPR_SCI 440, Reproductive Technologies, as an Assistant Course Director, and REPR_SCI 415, Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility Management, as a lecturer. 

Giulia Vigone, PhD

Lecturer

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Giulia Vigone, PhD, is a lecturer in the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine program. She completed her Master of Science and Doctorate research in the laboratory of Developmental Biology at the University of Pavia (Italy), where she specialized on the biology of the ovarian follicle, with a focus on markers of the oocyte quality. In 2015, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Laurinda Jaffe at UConn Health for her postdoc, where she studied the signaling mechanisms by which luteinizing hormone controls meiotic resumption and ovulation. Along with her research, she has cultivated an interest in professional development and education which led to her co-founding of the Academia-Industry Opportunities Group (AIOG). Dr. Vigone joined the CRS in 2020 and, as part of her role in the MS-RSM, she will be directing the course REPR_SCI 425: Responsible Conduct of Research in Reproductive Science, as well as teaching the professional development courses REPR_SCI 455: Research Proposals and REPR_SCI 497: Assessment and Career Planning. ​

Lauren Ataman-Millhouse, MA

Research Project Manager

lauren.jpgLauren graduated from the University of Southern California in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Business Administration and went on to complete a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. In 2011, Lauren joined Dr. Teresa Woodruff's team and has worked closely with Dr. Woodruff and Dr. Duncan in a variety of capacities since then.  Prior to her role with CRS, Lauren worked as the Research Project Manager for Oncofertility Consortium (OC) and provided programatic support for the OC’s administrative activities, which also included comprehensive grant and research administration support.  During this time, Lauren also organized the annual Oncofertility Consortium Conference and handled all aspects of the event including fundraising and development. She also managed the Oncofertility Professional Engagement Network (OPEN), a community of oncofertility professionals from around the globe who share resources, best practices, methodologies, and experiences. She has a number of publications resulting from her work with the Oncofertility Consortium and OPEN.  Lauren now oversees CRS’s grant, development, and promotion portfolio. She is actively looking for ways to support CRS through grants, industry, and other support mechanisms. Her portfolio also includes the CRS professional network, working closely with Giulia Vigone on CRS community relations. Lauren’s work promotes CRS programs to all relevant stakeholders and helps CRS sustain valuable research efforts in the reproductive health sciences community. 

Rebecca Willingham

Program Assistant

rebecca-willingham.jpgRebecca Willingham joined CRS in March 2021. Her role includes CRS programming and events. She is responsible for all event coordination and promotion and is the primary contact for CRS events. She also helps support the MS-RSM program. She previously worked as a Program Assistant in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Northwestern, and Assistant to the Chair of Performance at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Rebecca is an alumna of Emerson College and a MFA Directing candidate at The Theatre School at DePaul University.