Fred Winston is the John Emory Andrus Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Fred’s lab is best known for studies of transcription and chromatin structure in yeast. His lab has discovered several factors that are conserved from yeast to humans that play central roles in gene expression. Fred was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He received his BA from the University of Chicago and his PhD from MIT, doing his thesis research in the lab of David Botstein. He did his postdoctoral work in the lab of Gerry Fink before moving to his faculty position at Harvard in 1983. Fred has been president of the Genetics Society of America and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics