Jenny R. Lenkowski

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences (2013)

Hoffberger Science Building G44


Sc.B., Biology, Brown University
Ph.D., Biology, Tufts University

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

Developmental Biology, Developmental Toxicology, and Neuroscience


Professor Lenkowski's research interests lie in developmental biology. She has undertaken a variety of research questions and now focuses on how cells talk to each other during development and regeneration of the retina. To perform this research, she uses zebrafish, an animal that is commonly used in research because it is simple to maintain them and observe development in the embryos, and they can regenerate many different tissues including the heart, fin, and retina. The retinas of zebrafish and humans have the same types of neurons and Müller glia, all organized in layers. Müller glia are specialized cells that span the whole retina and support neurons. In zebrafish, Müller glia act as tissue specific stem cells. After injury, Müller glia activate and produce a progenitor cell that rapidly divides to regenerate any lost neurons and recover vision. In mammals, including humans, Müller glia respond to a retinal injury, but they typically generate a glial scar and do not regenerate any lost neurons. To help inform mammalian research and regenerative medicine, Prof. Lenkowski's research is aimed at understanding how Müller glial cells develop and why zebrafish have the capacity to regenerate neurons in the retina.

Representative Publications

Lenkowski JR, Raymond PA (2014) Müller glia: stem cells for generation and regeneration of retinal neurons in teleost fish. Progr. Retinal and Eye Res. (In press;

Lenkowski JR, Qin Z, Sifuentes CJ, Thummel R, Soto CM*, Moens CB, Raymond PA (2013) Retinal regeneration in adult zebrafish requires regulation of TGFBETA signaling. Glia 61(10): 1687-1697.

Lenkowski JR and McLaughlin KA (2010) Acute atrazine exposure disrupts tissue morphogenesis through disruption of matrix metalloproteinases and retinoid signaling in Xenopus laevisJ. Toxicol. Sci. 30(6): 582-589.

Lenkowski JR, Sanchez-Bravo G*, McLaughlin KA (2010) Low concentrations of atrazine, glyphosate, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and triadimefon exposures have diverse effects on Xenopus laevis organ morphogenesis. J. Environ. Sci. 22(9): 1305-1308.

Lenkowski JR, Reed JM, Deininger L*, McLaughlin KA (2008) Perturbation of organogenesis by the herbicide atrazine in the amphibian Xenopus laevis. Environ. Health Perspectives 16: 223-230.

* undergraduate student co-authors

Invited Lectures/Presentations at Professional Meetings

Lenkowski JR, Qin Z, Sifuentes CJ, Thummel R, Soto CM, Moens CB, Raymond PA. TGFΒ signaling in regeneration of the zebrafish retina. Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology. The College of William and Mary. Williamsburg, VA, 2013

Lenkowski JR, Sifuentes CJ, Moens CB, Raymond PA. Repression of TGFΒ signaling during
photoreceptor regeneration. 10th International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics, Madison, WI, 2012

Lenkowski JR, Qin Z, Sifuentes CJ, Moens C, Raymond PA. Exploring a role for TGFΒ signaling in the regeneration of adult zebrafish photoreceptors. Keystone Symposium on Adult Neurogenesis, Taos, NM, 2011

Lenkowski JR, Qin Z, Sifuentes CJ, Moens C, Raymond PA. The expression of tgif1 in zebrafish retinal stem cells. World Stem Cell Summit, Detroit, MI, 2010

Recent Student Research Projects

Compare Müller glia activation in wild-type and tgif1 mutant zebrafish during retina regeneration in zebrafish- University of Michigan, Celina Soto '15

Explore maternal effects of gene mutations during early development and cranial cartilage development in zebrafish - University of Michigan, Folaké Olojo '15

Characterize cell death in wild-type and mutant zebrafish during retina regeneration University of Michigan, Lydia Green '16

Awards/Significant Accomplishments

NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA fellowship (1F32EY021659-01A1) "Exploring a role for regulation of TGFΒ signaling during photoreceptor regeneration" (2012-2013)

Courses Taught

Introductory Biology II Lab
Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Techniques in Cell Biology
Techniques in Genetics and Molecular biology
Developmental Biology and Lab
Seminar in Neurobiology