Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Duncan Lab

About Our Lab

The female reproductive system is the first to age in the human body and will affect every single woman. Reproductive aging is characterized by a noticeable decline in egg quantity and quality beginning in women when they reach their mid-thirties and continuing until menopause. Female reproductive aging has significant health consequences as it results in endocrine function loss and is a leading cause of infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects. Reproductive aging has a large societal impact as women globally are delaying childbearing and many women of advanced reproductive age rely on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) to conceive.

The Duncan Lab uses mammalian model systems (mouse, bovine, and human) to investigate the overarching hypothesis that deterioration of oocyte-intrinsic cellular pathways together with alterations in the ovarian environment underlie the age-associated decline in female gamete quantity and quality. Our research will improve the fertile-span and health-span across generations through discovery of novel cellular pathways for therapeutic interventions.


  1. Manuel SL, Johnson BW, Frevert CW, Duncan FE  Revisiting the scientific method to improve rigor and reproducibility of immunohistochemistry in reproductive science.  Biol Reprod  2018 Apr 21;. doi:10.1093/biolre/ioy094
  2. Kimler BF, Briley SM, Johnson BW, Armstrong AG, Jasti S, Duncan FE  Radiation-induced ovarian follicle loss occurs without overt stromal changes.  Reproduction  2018 Apr 10;. pii:REP-18-0089
  3. Duncan FE, Gerton JL  Mammalian oogenesis and female reproductive aging.  Aging (Albany NY)  2018 Feb 05;10(2):162-163. doi:10.18632/aging.101381
  4. Armstrong AG, Kimler BF, Smith BM, Woodruff TK, Pavone ME, Duncan FE  Ovarian tissue cryopreservation in young females through the Oncofertility Consortium's National Physicians Cooperative.  Future Oncol  2018 Feb;14(4):363-378. doi:10.2217/fon-2017-0410

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Francesca E. Duncan, PhD

Francesca E. Duncan, PhD

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