Director, Women's Health Research Institute, Northwestern University

Dr. Woodruff is the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Vice Chair of Research (OB/GYN), the Chief of the Division of Reproductive Science in Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine and Professor of Molecular Biosciences at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University.

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. Based on the pioneering science done in her lab, Dr. Woodruff was awarded a prestigious Roadmap Grant from the NIH (2007). She now heads the Oncofertility Consortium, an interdisciplinary team of biomedical and social scientist experts from across the country. She and her team have literally ‘written the book’ on oncofertility, with four volumes describing the basic science activities, perspectives from the medical humanities and the law, a book on medical practice and a book on the communication methods that have been used to translate this work between an interdisciplinary team of scholars. In a NEJM article, she and co-author Jackie Jeruss, MD/PhD, provided the general medical community with the rationale for this field and in a Nature Review described the different teams involved in the Oncofertility Consortium. 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. The OSA program has been disseminated nationally as well and there are four additional universities that offer the Oncofertility Saturday Academy curriculum. She was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring in an oval office ceremony (2011). Finally, she developed the concept for a National Physicians Cooperative in Oncofertility (NPC) in order to link medical practices interested in fertility preservation protocols. Since the field of oncofertility is new, developing shared best practices is the best way to ensure that patients are receiving the kind of information and services that are available, even as the technology is under development (TedX).

Dr. Woodruff also serves as the founding director of the Women's Health Research Institute. The Women’s Health Research Institute has as its mission ‘science to care’ and ensuring that sex and gender are part of the research mission. Because of her work in inclusion, she was recently interviewed by Leslie Stahl and was highlighted on a 60 Minutes report and has written extensively on inclusion of sex and gender in science and medicine (PNAS, Nature).

Dr. Woodruff leads a large group of scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduates, visiting scholars and technicians who together make up the Woodruff Lab. Members of the lab are making important breakthroughs in follicle biology, oocyte quality and translating this work to patients. In addition to individual lab members, she collaborates widely with a vast network to help drive new discoveries and research techniques in the field. You can find more information about the people who are part of the group and their work here.

She was recently named to the Time Magazine 2013 list of the Worlds Most Influential People and was voted 112th. She was the only scientist on the list. Her awards also include the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring (2011), the Beacon Award from Frontiers in Reproduction (2013), the Women in Science Award from the Weitzman Institute (2012), an Alumni Association Merit Award from Northwestern (2012), the Distinguished Woman in Medicine and Science from Northwestern (2009), Feinberg School's Faculty Mentor of the Year (2009), and was named Northwestern Universities Distinguished Alumnae (2008). She has given the commencement address at Olivet Nazarene University (2012) and has also received an honorary degree from Bates College (2012) and delivered commencement remarks. She has been honored nationally with awards from the American Women in Science (Innovator Award), and American Medical Women’s Association (Gender Equity Award) (2009). In addition to her academic stewardship, she also served as the President of the Endocrine Society from 2013-2014.


  • –present
    Director, Women's Health Research Institute, Northwestern University