Leadership and Staff
Francesca E. Duncan, PhD
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 as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Duncan is now the Thomas J. Watkins Memorial Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and co-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
J. 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.
Pamela Monahan, PhD
Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and Lecturer
Pamela Monahan, PhD, is the CRS Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and Lecturer for the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine program (MS-RSM). She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Biological Sciences and earned her masters and doctorate in Molecular and Integrative Physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the mentorship of Dr. Lori Raetzman. Dr. Monahan then trained at Northwestern University with Dr. Kelly Mayo for her postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Monahan’s research aims are in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in reproductive organ development and as part of an interdisciplinary collaborative team identifying visual and molecular markers of placental dysfunction utilizing rodent models of preeclampsia. Dr. Monahan was instrumental in developing and implementing core MS-RSM curriculum, including the foundational courses in Female and Male Reproductive Physiology and Endocrinology (REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407) and directs the non-thesis track research curriculum (REPR_SCI 442 and 443), in collaboration with Dr. Hoi Chang Lee. Additionally, Dr. Monahan coordinates the educational portfolio of the CRS Predoctoral Training Program in Reproductive Science, Medicine and Technology (T32) directed by Dr. J. Julie Kim, is faculty co-lead for the CRS Community Engagement Subcommittee, with Dr. Giulia Vigone, and is creator and editor of the CRSpotlights Newsletter.
Hoi Chang Lee, PhD
Hoi 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
Director of MS Affairs and Lecturer
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 directs 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.
Lindsey Block, PhD, is a lecturer in the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine program. Dr. Block graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minor in Chemistry. During her time at UIUC, Dr. Block joined Dr. Gene E. Robinson's Honeybee Research laboratory. She then enrolled in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to obtain her PhD. Dr. Block completed her thesis work in Dr. Ted Golos' lab where she studied the impact of Zika virus on embryos and trophoblasts. After graduating, she was a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Rebecca Simmons's lab at the University of Pennsylvania where she established models to better study pregnancy complications and identify biomarkers of placental disfunction. As a Lecturer within the Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine program, Dr. Block develops curriculum, coordinates, and teaches the laboratory-based class, Reproductive Technologies Laboratory (REPR_SCI 440). She also assists in teaching MS-RSM professional development courses, advises students, and supports other team-taught courses within the program.
Lindsey Block, PhD
Lauren Ataman-Millhouse, MA
Lauren 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.
Nimra Chohan joined CRS in December 2021. She oversees and supports all administrative tasks and operations of the MS-RSM program including communications, student and faculty support, recruitment, and academic and curricular management. Nimra comes to CRS from the OB/GYN Education Department at the Feinberg School of Medicine, where she supported third-year medical students, as well as Northwestern's OB/GYN residents. Prior to joining Feinberg, she worked in public relations at Penguin Random House in New York. She is currently an MFA in Creative Writing candidate at Northwestern University.
Rebecca Willingham joined CRS in March 2021. She oversees administrative tasks and operations of CRS. Rebecca also coordinates all CRS programming and events. She previously worked in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Northwestern, and at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Rebecca is an alumna of Emerson College and received her MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University.