Elwood Linney received a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois. He received a master's degree in biophysics from Michigan State University. He spent a year teaching high school in rural Hawaii after an abortive attempt to join the Peace Corps. He returned to graduate school and received his Ph.D. in molecular biology at the University of California, San Diego working with bacterial viruses. He did his postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Gordon M. Tomkins at the University of California, San Francisco working with embryonal carcinoma stem cells. His first independent laboratory was setup at the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation (now named the Burnham Institute). He joined the Duke University Medical Center faculty in 1984 and is presently a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and a Professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth and Ocean Sciences. While at Duke he setup and ran the Transgenic Mouse Facility for their Comprehensive Cancer Center and is now focusing on zebrafish as a model system. He is a member of the NIEHS-funded Duke University Superfund Center and the Duke component of the NIEHS-funded Toxicogenomics Consortium.