As director of Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, Robert A. Winn, MD, is leading the nation in establishing a 21st-century model for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the oncology workforce, optimizing cancer health care outcomes for all and spearheading interdisciplinary approaches to cancer disparities research. Just the fourth director of Massey since its 1975 National Cancer Institute designation, Winn oversees a center comprised of nearly 150 scientists and clinical investigators. Leading by example, Winn is nationally recognized for his community engagement efforts in promoting new approaches to building trust among populations previously disenfranchised from healthcare or excluded or abused in research. Most recently, during the pandemic, Winn launched a nationally heralded Facts & Faith Fridays conversation series, an initiative that creates a dialogue between science, community and faith leaders to combat medical mistrust within the African American community. Hosted guests have included Jill Biden, EdD, Anthony Fauci, MD, Ned Sharpless, MD, and Francis Collins, MD, PhD. Winn is also the namesake of the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program, a $114 million training and education program in partnership with the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.
Winn is committed to both community-engaged research and research focused on eliminating health disparities. He is principal investigator on several large multi-institutional initiatives, including a team science award from Stand Up To Cancer, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded Planning SPORE focused on Lung Cancer Health Equity and an NCI-funded institutional partnership award fostering cancer disparities research and career development collaboration between Massey and Virginia State University, a Historically Black University located in Petersburg, VA – a city that has faced health and education inequities for generations. Winn also manages his own basic and translational research laboratory which has been supported by multiple NIH and Veterans Affairs Merit awards for nearly two decades. Winn’s laboratory focuses on the molecular mechanisms and novel therapeutic approaches for lung cancer and the confluence between societal and biological factors which may lead to disparities.
Winn’s previous faculty appointments include serving as director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center from 2015-2019 and as associate vice chancellor of health affairs for community-based practice at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science System from 2013-2019. Prior to his work in Chicago, Winn spent 13 years at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and School of Medicine in a variety of leadership roles, including associate dean of admissions and vice chair of career development and diversity inclusion.
The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Winn was the inaugural recipient of the 2021 Association of American Cancer Institutes’ (AACI) Cancer Health Equity Award and is AACI’s President Elect. He also serves on the boards of the American Cancer Society and LUNGevity Foundation.
Winn holds a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MD from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago and a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.