Mark Winey

Born: June 14, 1961 | Chicago, IL, US
Photograph of Mark Winey

Mark Winey was born in Chicago, Illinois. His initial interest in genetics resulted from his younger sister's galactosemia. In high school, he took many science classes and began his enduring love of the outdoors. While at Syracuse University, he also took advantage of SUNY Stony Brook's nearby forestry school, though he majored in biology. A microbiology class convinced him to focus on yeast, which he still loves for its genetics and application to the study of human disease. He attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, then went to the University of Washington for a postdoc to study centrosomes. Next, he accepted a faculty position at the University of Colorado. He continues to research MPS1, MPS2, and NDC1 and work with students.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0506
No. of pages: 99
Minutes: 500

Interview Sessions

Andrea R. Maestrejuan
14-16 September 1998
University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

Abstract of Interview

Mark Winey was born in Chicago, Illinois, where his father was finishing a Master's degree in chemistry at the University of Chicago. Some months later the family moved back to the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, near where both parents had grown up. Mark was followed by two sisters. The elder Winey finished a PhD in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked on the bench at a research laboratory ever since. Mark's mother was at home with her children until they were established in school, at which time she began teaching English in the high school district where Mark and his sisters went to school. She also obtained a degree in counseling, and Mark likes to laugh that she practiced on the kids. For the most part, the family had a good upper-middle-class life in Bucks County, attending the local public schools and being active in their Presbyterian church. Mark's initial interest in genetics, however, resulted from his younger sister's galactosemia; she was very ill as an infant, and she was eventually sent to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where the uncommon genetic trait was diagnosed. CHOP was one of few places where this diagnosis could have been made. When he was in high school Mark, who had always been determined to be a scientist, took many science classes, which he thinks were excellent, and a number of liberal arts classes that he liked as well. His ninth-grade biology teacher cemented his determination to go into biology. During high school he also began his enduring love of the outdoors, spending much time climbing, camping, and hiking; he even held a part-time job at an outdoor-equipment store. These two interests combined in Syracuse University, where he could major in biology, but where SUNY Stony Brook also had its forestry school. Soon, though, he settled on just biology, working on blue-green algae in James Smith's laboratory. A class in microbiology taught by Ernest Hemphill convinced him that yeast was his research subject, and he maintains that love. Winey met his future wife at Syracuse and developed many friendships there as well. Yeast took him to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where he worked with Michael Culbertson. His love for yeast he explains as having three reasons: it has good genetics; it is a good teaching medium; and it has applications to the study of human disease. For his postdoctoral work he and his by-then wife, Mary Darlington, went to the University of Washington, where he worked in the Breck Byers laboratory, studying centrosomes, screening for mutations that affect spindle pole body duplications. From Byers' lab he accepted a faculty position at the University of Colorado, taking his work with him. There he continues to do research on MPS1, MPS2, and NDC1; to write grants; to recruit graduate students; teach; and to write papers. He also must balance his work with his wife and three children, and they continue their outdoor activities.


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1983 Syracuse University BS
1988 University of Wisconsin, Madison PhD

Professional Experience

University of Washington

1988 to 1991
Department of Genetics, Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Colorado, Boulder

1991 to 1998
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Assistant Professor
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Associate Professor


Year(s) Award
1984 to 1987

National Institutes of Health Graduate Trainee in Molecular and
Cellular Biology

1988 to 1991

National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship

1993 to 1996

American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award

1993 to 1997

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

1993 to 1998

National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award

Table of Contents

Early Years

Family background. Winey's religious background. Early interest in genetics. His sister's galactosemia. His high school science education. Winey's early interest in teaching. High school employment selling camping and hiking equipment. Interest in history and biography.

College Years

Matriculates at Syracuse University. Science classes. Studies environmental applications of blue-green algae in the James Smith lab. Advent of recombinant DNA technology. Interest in studying yeast; yeast genetics at Syracuse. Considering graduate schools.

Graduate School

Studying tRNA splicing in the Michael R. Culbertson lab at University of Wisconsin. How identifying a gene can establish a career. John N. Abelson's use of reverse genetics to identify genes involved in tRNA splicing. Brute force screening versus reverse genetics. Winey's wife, Mary Darlington, and children. Juggling career and family life.

Postgraduate Years

Decides to continue yeast research as a postdoc. Enters the Breck E. Byers lab at University of Washington. Studying centrosomes. Screening for mutations that affect spindle pole body duplications; analyzing spindle body formation. Takes his research with him upon leaving the Byers lab.

University of Colorado

Accepts a position at University of Colorado. The birth of his first child Winey's mentoring style. Collaboration with the Gayle Knapp lab leads Winey to use brute force screening. Screening mutant cells with Peter Baum. Winey' s research on MPS1, MPS2, and NDC1. Collaboration with J. Richard McIntosh on ultrastructural spindle analysis. Locates NDC1 in nuclear pores. Uses computer modeling to understand nuclear pore assembly and the structure of meiotic spindles in yeast. Cerevisiae and mice. Winey' s most importantscientific contributions. Centrosomes' crucial role in maintaining genomic stability. Funding. Yeast as a model system. Relevance of yeast research in understanding human disease. The University of Colorado as a research environment. Recruiting graduate students. Winey's own scientific career. The need to make science accessible to the general public.


About the Interviewer

Andrea R. Maestrejuan