Lani J. Burkman

Born: Santa Barbara, CA on 11 September 1948

Passed away: Grand Island, NY on 04 March 2016

Aged: 67 years

Funeral Date: 19 March 2016

Service Details

A memorial service will be held at Trinity Church on Grand Island on March 19th, 2016 at 11:00am, preceded by visitation from 10:00am and followed by a luncheon.

Memorial gifts may be sent to Journeys End Refugee Services
2495 Main Street, Suite 313, Buffalo, NY 14212

Suggested lodging:
Byblos Niagara Resort
100 Whitehaven Rd, Grand Island, NY
Mention Lani Memorial for discount rate $59/night
Ph: 716-773-1111

The Story

Lani J. Burkman of Grand Island, a pioneering scientist in the study of male infertility, died peacefully of cancer at home on March 4 at the age of 67.

Born in Santa Barbara, California, Burkman completed her doctoral work in physiology at the University of California at Davis. As a researcher at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, VA from 1982, she developed the hemizona assay, a highly reputed sperm function test. Her studies led to the discovery of sperm hyperactivation, a critical stage in the fertilization of an egg. Continuing her research as a member of the Gynecology and Obstetrics faculty at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine from 1996 to 2009, Dr. Burkman revealed the effects of tobacco and marijuana use on male fertility. After retiring from UB she formed LifeCellDx, a company using computer analysis to predict a male’s probability of fertility. Dr. Burkman patented a process to assess male fertility over the internet, facilitating testing in remote domestic and international areas. Her career ultimately aided countless couples wanting to have children.

Dr. Burkman is survived by her father, J. Archie Johnson; husband Thomas W. Burkman, a Japan historian and retired professor at the University at Buffalo; a sister Rena Sperling; brothers Rod Johnson and Steve Johnson; a daughter Heather Burkman and a son Wesley Burkman; stepson J. Bradford Burkman and stepdaughter Mary Gworek; four grandchildren and a large extended family.

Dr. Burkman enjoyed gardening, sewing, singing and playing piano. Her scientific work took her frequently to Asia and Europe, reinforcing her keen interest in other cultures and languages. At Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Island she taught children and adults and sang in the choir. Despite her intense drive and crowded professional agenda, Dr. Burkman always found time to enjoy her family and respond to the needs of others, particularly refugee families acclimating to Buffalo.

A video interview of Lani and her family (Nov 2015, ~3 mos before her death), photos from the Memorial Service and her burial can be found here:

Photos from Lani's life, from childhood to the end, can be found here:
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