Francis has a BS in Biology (the College of William and Mary, Virginia, 1985) and PhD in Pharmacology (University of Pennsylvania, 1994). He undertook Postdoctoral research in developmental neurobiology at Harvard Medical School from 1994 to 1999 before becoming an Assistant Professor at the Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, a position he held until 2007. He moved to Oxford in 2007 to take up a post as University Lecturer in Biomedical Science at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, also becoming a Tutorial Fellow in Developmental Neurobiology at St Anne’s College.