Fred M. Winston

Harvard University

Election Year: 2013
Primary Section: 26, Genetics
Membership Type: Member


Fred Winston is the John Emory Andrus Professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He is recognized for his work on gene expression in yeast. He is known particularly for his identification and studies of yeast SPT genes, which encode conserved factors that control eukaryotic transcription and chromatin structure. Winston was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1952. He grew up in Cleveland, graduated from the University of Chicago in 1974 with a degree in biology, and received a doctorate from MIT in 1980. Winston did his PhD with David Botstein and then was a postdoc with Gerry Fink at Cornell and MIT. Winston joined the faculty in the new Department of Genetics at Harvard Med in 1983. Winston was president of the Genetics Society of America in 2009.

Research Interests

Fred Winston's lab studies several aspects of eukaryotic transcription and chromatin structure in the yeasts S. cerevisiae and S. pombe. The Winston lab focuses on the functions of different classes of conserved transcription factors, including the coactivator, SAGA, the chromatin remodeling complex, Swi/Snf, and the histone chaperone, Spt6. Studies of Spt6 have shown that it represses a previously unknown class of transcription that initiates within genes, intragenic transcription, as well as antisense transcription. In addition, Spt6 controls chromatin structure and histone modifications, suggesting that it plays a central role in controlling the accuracy of transcription and the integrity of chromatin. Additional studies in the Winston lab focus on mechanisms by which yeast cells regulate the distance over which transcriptional activation can occur and on redundancy among biochemically distinct transcription factors.

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