Lilianna Solnica-Krezel, PhD

Lilianna Solnica-Krezel, PhD

Alan A and Edith L Wolff Distinguished Professor and Head of Developmental Biology

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Research interests

We are investigating the cellular and molecular genetic mechanisms underlying vertebrate gastrulation, a crucial period of embryogenesis during which the germ layers are formed and then shaped into the vertebrate body plan with organ rudiments. Gastrulation entails a combination of inductive events that specify cell identities with massive cell movements and rearrangements that fashion the body plan. The complex and dynamic nature of gastrulation makes it a challenging but intellectually fascinating object of study. In humans, 25-50% of pregnancies end in early miscarriages of a largely unknown genetic origin. Moreover, the molecular regulation of tumor growth and metastasis show striking parallels to those underlying gastrulation movements, underscoring the practical significance of gastrulation research.

We are addressing the mechanisms of gastrulation in the zebrafish (Danio rerio), a system that affords a powerful combination of forward and reverse genetic analyses with embryological, cellular and molecular methods. We are also employing embryonic stem cells and tumor cell lines to test whether the new genes and mechanisms we implicate in zebrafish gastrulation are also involved in human development and disease. Our current experiments are focused on the roles of the Wnt, Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity, Stat3 and G-protein coupled receptor signaling pathways and epigenetic factors in the regulation of embryonic polarity and gastrulation movements.

Back Row: Jimann Shin, Margot Williams, Kyaw Thu Minn, Zachary Kupchinsky, Ryan McAdow

Middle Row: Isa Roszoko, Mariana Beltcheva, Lila Solnica-Krezel, Anna Hindes, John Englehard

Front Row: Gina Castlevecchi, Eunja Yoon, Diane Sepich


  • 1985 Magister (M.Sc.) in Molecular Biology (Highest Honors), Warsaw University, Warsaw, Poland
  • 1991 Ph.D. in Oncology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research


Edwin G. Conklin Medal in Advancing the Field of Developmental Biology, 2023


Research and professional experience

  • 1991 – 1995 Postdoctoral Fellow: In the laboratory of Dr. Wolfgang Driever, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston A genetic screen for mutations affecting zebrafish embryogenesis.
  • 1/1996 – 7/2001 Assistant Professor: Department of Molecular Biology, Vanderbilt University
  • 8/2001 – 7/2005 Associate Professor: Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University 8/2005 – 5/2010 Professor: Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • 7/2006 – 5/2010 Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of Developmental Genetics: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • 5/2009 – 5/2010 University Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University
  • 1/2010 – Professor and Head, Department of Developmental Biology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

Selected publications

See a complete list of Dr. Solnica-Krezel’s publications »