Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Surgery & Cancer

Clinical Professor



+44 (0)20 7594 2109s.franks




Miss Kiran Dosanjh +44 (0)20 7594 4217




5007Institute of Reproductive and Developmental BiologyHammersmith Campus





Qualifications and personal history

MBBS (UCL) 1970; MRCP 1972; MD (University of London) 1978; FRCP 1988; MD honoris causa (University of Uppsala) 1995; FRCOG ad eundem 2000; FMedSci 2000

Stephen Franks is Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology at Imperial College Faculty of Medicine and Consultant Endocrinologist at St Mary’s and Hammersmith Hospitals, London. He trained in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology and his initial research was in disorders of human prolactin secretion under the supervision of Howard Jacobs and John Nabarro at the Middlesex Hospital, London. He then spent 2 years as a postdoctoral research fellow in reproductive endocrinology in the lab of Dr Fred Naftolin at McGill University, Montreal (funded by an MRC Travelling Fellowship) before returning to resume his training in endocrinology with Bill Hoffenberg in Birmingham. He is a former Chairman of the Society for Endocrinology (UK), currently sits on their Clinical Committee and is a long-term member of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala, Sweden. He is a former editor of the journal, Clinical Endocrinology.

Research interests

  • Ovarian physiology: control of follicle development in the mammalian ovary
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: aetiology, reproductive and metabolic consequences

Stephen Franks has both clinic and laboratory based programmes of research in the field of normal and disordered function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. He has a major interest in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is not only the commonest cause of anovulatory infertility but is also a major risk factor for development of type 2 diabetes. His research includes investigation of disorders of ovarian follicle development, the mechanism(s) of anovulation, and of the characteristic metabolic abnormalities; it focuses particularly on the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in the aetiology of the syndrome. He is Theme Leader for the Gonadal Biology research theme in the Division of Cancer (IRDB).

His earlier studies in the field of PCOS have included work elucidating the wide prevalence and spectrum of presentation of the syndrome, which led to revision of the diagnostic criteria for PCOS. His team also described a disorder of energy balance (associated with insulin resistance) in women with PCOS and demonstrated that metabolic abnormalities in PCOS are linked to menstrual dysfunction. They were amongst the first to promote low-dose gonadotropin regimens for the safe treatment of infertility in women with PCOS, a procedure that has now been adopted worldwide. In laboratory-based studies his team found evidence for an intrinsic ovarian abnormality of steroidogenesis in PCO ovaries.  Another important aspect of the work on PCOS (in collaboration with, first, Bob Williamson and more recently Mark McCarthy), has been the search for the genetic basis of PCOS. They were the first team to describe FTO (fat mass and obesity gene) as an important susceptibility locus for PCOS. Together with Professor Kate Hardy, he described abnormalities in early follicular development in the polycystic ovary, and recently this team has shown that this phenomenon is associated with abnormal expression of growth factors implicated in follicle development.

Main research objectives

  • Understanding the developmental origins of polycystic ovary syndrome

The major focus of current studies (funded by an MRC Programme Grant) is the understanding of the likely developmental origins of PCOS and the role that androgens play in this process. The key areas of investigation include further elucidation of mechanism(s) of abnormal ovarian follicle development and anovulation, and of the characteristic metabolic abnormalities. An overriding theme is the understanding of the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in the aetiology of the syndrome.


  • Imperial College London: Professors Kate Hardy, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, Desmond Johnston
  • University of Oxford: Professor Mark McCarthy
  • University of Birmingham: Professors Wiebke Arlt, Paul Stewart, Dr Jeremy Tomlinson
  • University of Edinburgh: Professors Alan McNeilly, Richard Anderson, Dr Colin Duncan
  • Erasmus University, Rotterdam: Professor Axel Themmen, Dr Jenny Visser

Membership of professional bodies

  • Fellow of Academy of Medical Sciences
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
  • Fellow (ad eundem) of Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists
  • Royal Society of Medicine
  • Society for Endocrinology (UK)
  • Endocrine Society (USA)
  • European Society of Endocrinology
  • Society for Study of Reproduction
  • Society for Reproduction & Fertility
  • British Society for Cell Biology

Membership of editorial boards

  • Academic Editor PLoS One (2010 - )
  • Member of Editorial Board of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (USA) (2005 - 2011 )

Membership of committees - both external and internal

  • Member of Executive Committee of Division of Cancer (2011 - )
  • Member of the Clinical Committee of Society for Endocrinology  (2006 - )
  • Member of Nominations Committee of Society for Endocrinology (2010 - 2013 ) 
  • Member of Wellbeing of Women Research Advisory Committee (2009 –2012)
  • Member of Board of Feldberg Foundation (for Anglo-German Scientific Exchange; (2006 - 2012 )
  • President (and Chairman of Council) of Endocrinology & Diabetes Section of Royal Society of Medicine (2011 -)
  • Medical advisor for Verity (PCOS patient support group) (2002 - ) and Chair of Executive Committee for PCOSUK (formed in association with Verity to promote awareness of PCOS in clinical practice and media) (2005 - )



Laird M, Thomson K, Fenwick M, et al., Androgen stimulates growth of mouse preantral follicles: interaction with FSH and growth factors of the TGFβ superfamily, Endocrinology, ISSN:1945-7170

Alves AC, Valcarcel B, Maekinen V-P, et al., 2017, Metabolic profiling of polycystic ovary syndrome reveals interactions with abdominal obesity, International Journal of Obesity, Vol:41, ISSN:0307-0565, Pages:1331-1340

Ernst EH, Grondahl ML, Grund S, et al., 2017, Dormancy and activation of human oocytes from primordial and primary follicles: molecular clues to oocyte regulation, Human Reproduction, Vol:32, ISSN:0268-1161, Pages:1684-1700

Hardy K, Fenwick M, Mora J, et al., 2017, Onset and Heterogeneity of Responsiveness to FSH in Mouse Preantral Follicles in Culture, Endocrinology, Vol:158, ISSN:0013-7227, Pages:134-147

Karjula S, Morin-Papunen L, Auvinen J, et al., 2017, Psychological Distress Is More Prevalent in Fertile Age and Premenopausal Women With PCOS Symptoms: 15-Year Follow-Up, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol:102, ISSN:0021-972X, Pages:1861-1869

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