Kelli A. Duncan

Professor of Biology on the Patricia Shoer Goldman-Rakic '59 Professorship Chair
Kelli A. Duncan wearing a black and white patterned shirt and a green jacket with a gray background.

My research lab (including undergraduate researchers) examines the role of steroid hormones on repair of the nervous system following traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Specifically, we study how these steroids mediate inflammation following TBI. I received my PhD in Biology from Georgia State University in 2008, where I studied sex differences in neuronal development. I then continued this research as a post-doc at Lehigh University where I also began to examine the role of steroid hormones following TBI, until starting my own lab here at Vassar College in 2011.

BS, University of Georgia; MS, PhD, Georgia State University
At Vassar since 2011


Olmsted Hall of Biological Sc
Box 350
MF 10:30-11:30am, W 12:00-1:00pm via Zoom.

Research and Academic Interests

Role of steroid hormones on Neuroprotection
Interaction between Steroid hormones and Neuroinflammation
Role of age and development on injury to the brain

Departments and Programs


BIOL 316 Seminar in Neurobiology
NEUR 105 Introduction to Neuroscience and Behavior

Selected Publications

Recent Works

  • Duncan KA. Estrogen Formation and Inactivation Following TBI: What we know and where we could go. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020 May 29;11:345. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2020.00345. PMID: 32547495; PMCID: PMC7272601.

  • Arndtsen C, Ballon J, Blackshear K, Corbett CB, Lee K, Peyer J, Holloway KS, Duncan KA. Atypical gene expression of neuroinflammatory and steroid related genes following injury in the photoperiodic Japanese quail. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2020 Mar 1;288:113361. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2019.113361. Epub 2019 Dec 9. PMID: 31830471.

  • Duncan KA, Saldanha CJ. Central aromatization: A dramatic and responsive defense against threat and trauma to the vertebrate brain. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2020 Jan;56:100816. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2019.100816. Epub 2019 Nov 28. PMID: 31786088.
  • Cook S*, Hung V*, Duncan KA. Crosstalk between Estrogen withdrawal and NFκB signaling in zebra finches following penetrating brain injury. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2018;25(4):193-200.
  • Blackshear K, Giessner S*, Hayden JP*, Duncan KA. Exogenous progesterone is neuroprotective following injury to the male zebra finch brain. J. Neurosci. Res. 2017 May 8; doi: 10.1002/jnr.24060

  • Klores M*, Moon JT*, Duncan KA. Expression of glial CBP in steroid mediated neuroprotection in male and female zebra finches. J Chem Neuroanat. 2017 Jan;79:32-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2016.11.002. Epub 2016 Nov 5.

  • Duncan KA, Moon J*, Vartosis D*, Zee I*. Injury-induced expression of glial androgen receptor in the zebra finch brain. J Neurotrauma. 2013 Nov 15;30(22):1919-24. doi: 10.1089/neu.2013.2951. Epub 2013 Sep 27.

In the Media

Rwanda Summer Program Group Selfie

Vassar and the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), a recently established medical school in Rwanda, have been engaged over the past three years in initiatives that benefit both institutions. The partnership has shown how the liberal arts can enhance health care.

Interior of Chapel with the audience for Convocation

Convocation officially kicked off the academic year on August 31. The Convocation address, “How I Got Medieval: From First Gen to PhD,” was delivered by Professor of History Nancy Bisaha.


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