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Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering scheduled for March 12 and 13

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05 March 2018

Fred WinstonFred M. Winston, John Emory Andrus Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering on March 12 and 13, 2018, at the Penn State University Park campus. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

The series includes a lecture intended for the general audience, titled "Using Yeast Genetics to Study Gene Expression," at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 12, in Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building. Winston will also give a more specialized lecture, titled "Factors that Control Transcriptional Accuracy and Chromatin Integrity," at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, in Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building.

Winston's lab studies several aspects of gene transcription and chromatin-the complex of proteins and DNA that comprise chromosomes-structure in the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. His research focuses on the functions of different classes of conserved transcription factors-genes that control the expression of other genes. These include the coactivator, SAGA; the chromatin remodeling complex, Swi/Snf; and the histone chaperone, Spt6. Studies of Spt6 have shown that it represses intragenic transcription, antisense transcription, and a previously unknown class of transcription that initiates within genes. 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.

Winston has served as the president of the Genetics Society of America and chair of the Genetics Society of America Publications Committee. He is currently on the Board of Editors for the journal mBio. His awards include election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.

Winston received a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Chicago in 1974 and a doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980, where he conducted research with David Botstein. He went on to conduct postdoctoral studies with Gerald Fink at Cornell University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1983, he joined the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Russell Earl Marker, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker Lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences, and physics.

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Tamara Housel: txh9@psu.edu, (814) 865-3072

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