Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction

Clinical Professor



+44 (0)20 7594 2109s.franks




Miss Kiran Dosanjh +44 (0)20 7594 4217




5009Institute 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 Hospital (Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust), 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), former President (and current Council member) of the Section of Endocrinology and Diabetes of the Royal Society of Medicine, a long-term member of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility and an honorary member of the British Fertility Society. 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, Senior Editor for the journal Endocrine Connections and Associate Editor for the journal Reproduction.

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. .

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, later Mark McCarthy and, more recently, Cecilia Lindgren), has been the search for the genetic basis of PCOS. He is currently a member of the Steering Committee for the international consortium studying the genetics of PCOS which has recently published a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) identifying key susceptibility loci for PCOS. Together with Professor Kate Hardy, he described abnormalities in early follicular development in the polycystic ovary, and 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
  • Elucidating the genetics of PCOS
  • Defining the epidemiology of PCOS

The major focus of ongoing studies (funded mainly by MRC) 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, Charlotte Bevan, Waljit Dhillo, Dr Aylin Hanyaloglu 
  • University of Oxford: Professor Cecilia Lindgren (WTCHG)
  • University of Birmingham: Professor Wiebke Arlt
  • University of Sheffield: Dr Mark Fenwick
  • University of Edinburgh: Professor Colin Duncan
  • University of Oulu, Finland: Professors Marjo-Riitta Javelin, Terhi Piltonen, Dr. Laure Morin-Papunen,
  • University Hospital Copenhagen, Denmark: Professor Claus Yding Andersen
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA: Professor Andrea Dunaif

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 (Section of Endocrinology & Diabetes)
  • Society for Endocrinology (UK)
  • Endocrine Society (USA)
  • European Society of Endocrinology
  • European Society for Human Reproduction & Embryology
  • Society for Study of Reproduction (USA)
  • Society for Reproduction & Fertility
  • British Fertility Society (Honorary Member)

Membership of editorial boards

  • Academic Editor PLoS One (2010 - 2014)
  • Member of Editorial Board of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (USA) (2005 - 2011) (2014 - )
  • Member of Editorial Board of Frontiers in Endocrinology (2016 - 2018)
  • Senior Editor for Endocrine Connections (2018 - )
  • Associate Editor for Reproduction (2020 - )

Membership of committees - both external and internal

  • Member of Executive Committee of Division of Reproductive Biology (2011 - )
  • Member of the Senior Management Board, Department of Surgery & Cancer (2016 - 2018)
  • Member of the Senior Management Board, Department of Metabolism, Digestion & Reproduction (2018 - )
  • Member of the Clinical Committee of Society for Endocrinology  (2006 - 2011)
  • 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 - 2013)
  • Member of Council of Endocrinology & Diabetes Section of Royal Society of Medicine (2013 - )
  • 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 - )



Laru J, Ojaniemi M, Franks S, et al., 2022, An optimal growth pattern during pregnancy and early childhood associates with better fertility in men., Eur J Endocrinol, Vol:187, Pages:847-858

Piltonen T, Morin-Papunen L, Ollila M-M, et al., 2022, Women self-reporting PCOS symptoms should not be overlooked, Human Reproduction, Vol:38, ISSN:0268-1161, Pages:189-190

Pölönen J, Pinola P, Ronkainen J, et al., 2022, Polycystic ovary syndrome and leukocyte telomere length: cross-sectional and longitudinal changes, European Journal of Endocrinology, Vol:187, ISSN:0804-4643, Pages:651-661

Joham AE, Norman RJ, Stener-Victorin E, et al., 2022, Polycystic ovary syndrome, Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Vol:10, ISSN:2213-8587, Pages:668-680

Kujanpaa L, Arffman RK, Pesonen P, et al., 2022, Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are burdened with multimorbidity and medication use independent of body mass index at late fertile age: a population-based cohort study, Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, Vol:101, ISSN:0001-6349, Pages:728-736

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