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Massey director honored with inaugural health equity award

Oct 21, 2021


The Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) recognized VCU Massey Cancer Center director Robert A. Winn, M.D., with its inaugural Cancer Health Equity Award at the AACI/Cancer Center Administrators Forum (CCAF) Annual Meeting.

Winn, who also holds the Lipman Chair in Oncology at Massey and is a senior associate dean for cancer innovation and a professor of pulmonary disease and critical care medicine at the VCU School of Medicine, is receiving the honor for his commitment to improving health equity and positively impacting cancer care in Virginia.

“Health and cancer equity are not ideas to discuss,” said Winn. “They are action items on today’s agenda and tomorrow’s agenda and every day after until all people have the same level of access to preventive screenings and clinical care.”

Community engagement is the foundation of Winn’s efforts across the 66 localities Massey serves in its catchment area. In Virginia, Winn provides direction for outreach programs through the Massey Office of Health Equity and Disparities Research. He also co-founded Facts and Faith Fridays, a weekly conference call with faith leaders to arm them with accurate health information to share with their congregations. Winn’s monthly Community Conversations segment on KISS-FM directly connects an urban audience with the latest cancer information. Winn’s Director’s Cabinet includes about a dozen representatives from diverse ethnic, racial, rural health and LGBTQIA+ organizations to inform research.

On a national level, Winn is the principal investigator on several community-based projects including the All of Us Research Program, a precision medicine initiative by the National Institutes of Health. Winn also oversees the Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program, a partnership with National Medical Fellowships and Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation; it seeks to advance clinical trial diversity and improve access to quality health care in underserved patient populations in the U.S. while developing a more diverse medical workforce. As co-chair of the Elevating Cancer Equity Working Group, Winn collaborated with patients, advocates, health care providers, researchers and industry professionals to design an Equity Report Card, 17 practice changes hospitals can measure in their pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

“DEI is essential to the development of a 21st century model for cancer centers,” said Winn. “Establishing programs to address disparities is a start, but staying beyond the grant and having a consistent presence is when we will truly be able to break through to underserved communities. Medical mistrust and hesitancy run rampant through marginalized populations. Having ongoing two-way conversations nullifies myths and builds trust at greater levels.”

Winn, who is the AACI’s current vice president/president-elect, accepted the award during a virtual ceremony on October 20.

Written by: Amy Lacey

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