Jennifer Lanni

Associate Professor in Biology; Visiting Scientist, Boston Children's Hospital




Biochemistry, Biology


Mars 2131

Current students: check OnCourse for course hours. All others: please email me for an appointment.

(508) 286-3954


Courses taught:

BIO112      Cells and Genes

BIO211      Genetics

BIO280     Research in Regenerative Biology

BIO305     Biochemistry

BIO401     Biology Senior Seminar

BIO405     Biochemistry Senior Seminar

FSEM101   Cancer: Exploring the Enemy Within


Research Interests

Growth regulation in vertebrates

Regenerative biology



Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

B.A., Amherst College



Wildtype and longfinned zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Research Interests

My research utilizes the zebrafish model system to explore the regulation of proportional growth in vertebrates.  During normal development, growth is integrated such that relative sizes among structures and tissues are specified and maintained. My laboratory is studying a zebrafish mutant strain (Schleier) with fins that grow to over twice the normal length. This long-finned mutant is notable in that it maintains patterned overgrowth, distinct from the kind of aberrant proliferation seen in cancer and overgrowth disorders. As zebrafish share many of their genes with humans, we hope to use this mutant to identify conserved pathways that regulate growth in vertebrates. Zebrafish also possess the remarkable ability to regenerate their fins within two weeks of amputation. Thus, understanding the growth pathways that are activated in our mutant fish may lend insight into tissue regeneration. Current work is focused on characterizing the molecular cause of the Schl allele and addressing whether changes in vascular tone are sufficient to change appendage size in the zebrafish.

Teaching Interests

I teach Biochemistry, Genetics, Seminars in Biology and Biochemistry, and a research-based course, Regenerative Biology. I am also the co-coordinator for the Biochemistry program, along with Professor Hilary Gaudet in the Chemistry Department. I am especially interested in helping students acquire the skills to become confident scientists, from designing and executing research projects to learning how to read, interpret, and contribute to the scientific literature.


Assistant Professor of Biology Jenny Lanni worked with student research assistants Ao "Kevin” Shi ’17 and Kathryn Henrikson ’16 last summer studying fin regeneration in zebrafish. The students trimmed the tail fins of zebrafish, then photographed and documented the details of their regrowth.
Ao “Kevin” Shi ’17 and Kathryn Henrikson ’16 in the fish room


Harris, M.P., Daane, J.M. and Lanni, J. (2020). Through veiled mirrors: Fish fins giving insight into size regulation. WIRES Developmental Biology . https://doi.org/10.1002/wdev.381

Lanni, J.S., Peal, D., Ekstrom, L., Chen, H.*, Stanclift, C.*, Bowen, M., Kahle, K., Harris, M. (2019) Integrated K+ channel and K+Cl- cotransporter functions are required for the coordination of size and proportion during development. * denotes undergraduate author. Developmental Biology 456(2), 164-178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2019.08.016

Daane, J., Lanni, J., Rothenberg, I., Seebohm, G., Higdon, C., Johnson, S., & Harris, M. (2018). Bioelectric-calcineurin signaling module regulates allometric growth and size of the zebrafish fin. Scientific Reports 8, Article number:10391  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-28450-6

Kunduru, H., Lanni, J., Shields, J., Andreeva, V., Fraher, D., and Yelick, P. (2012) Characterizing the phenotype of the novel zebrafish mutant 152N [abstract]. J. Dent Res91(Spec Iss A): 1553.




Student Projects

Haining Chen, 2019: Genotypic and phenotypic analysis of unique Crispr-Cas induced mutations in the KCC4a gene.

Michelle Laverriere, 2018: Quantitative measurement of gene expression in wild-type, mutant, and regenerating zebrafish fins using qPCR.

Liam McCafferty, 2017: RNAseq analysis of gene expression in wild-type and mutant zebrafish fin tissue.

Caroline Stanclift, 2017: Immunohistochemical detection of KCC4 protein in zebrafish tissues.

Katie Henrikson, 2016 and Kevin (Ao) Shi, 2017: Phenotypic analysis of the vasculature and pigment during fin regeneration in zebrafish strains with activated potassium channels.

Ethan Fitzgerald, 2016: Determining the pattern and timing of KCC4 expression in wild-type and mutant zebrafish strains. (Also worked on phenotypic analysis)

Julia Jennings, 2015: Assaying the lateral line phenotype in zebrafish strains with potassium channel mutations. (Also worked on phenotypic analysis)