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. Rowley JE, Rubenstein GE, Manuel SL, Johnson NL, Surgnier J, Kapitsinou PP, Duncan FE, Pritchard MT  Tissue-specific Fixation Methods Are Required for Optimal In Situ Visualization of Hyaluronan in the Ovary, Kidney, and Liver.  J Histochem Cytochem  2019 Nov 12;:22155419884879. doi:10.1369/0022155419884879
  2. Simon LE, Liu Z, Bousfield G, Kumar TR, Duncan FE  Recombinant FSH glycoforms are bioactive in mouse preantral ovarian follicles.  Reproduction  2019 Oct 01;. doi:10.1530/REP-19-0392
  3. Quan N, Harris LR, Halder R, Trinidad CV, Johnson BW, Horton S, Kimler BF, Pritchard MT, Duncan FE  Differential sensitivity of inbred mouse strains to ovarian damage in response to low dose total body irradiation.  Biol Reprod  2019 Aug 22;. pii:ioz164
  4. Dipali SS, Ferreira CR, Zhou LT, Pritchard MT, Duncan FE  Histologic analysis and lipid profiling reveal reproductive age-associated changes in peri-ovarian adipose tissue.  Reprod Biol Endocrinol  2019 Jun 12;17(1):46. doi:10.1186/s12958-019-0487-6

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Francesca E. Duncan, PhD

Francesca E. Duncan, PhD

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