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Massey director receives prestigious lectureship at AACR annual meeting

Apr 12, 2022

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Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman Chair in Oncology at VCU Massey Cancer Center, was honored with the AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship during the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The lectureship recognizes an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has — through leadership or by example — furthered the advancement of minority investigators in cancer research.

“My science lives now but also has a history,” acknowledged Winn, who is also senior associate dean for cancer innovation and a professor of pulmonary disease and critical care medicine at the VCU School of Medicine.

Since becoming the director at Massey in December 2019, Winn has been a national leader in efforts to study lung cancer, address health disparities and promote community-based health care. Winn’s contributions and advancements toward understanding the development of lung cancer have unlocked several novel targets in the areas of Wnt signaling, RNA binding proteins, ion channels and protein methylation. His vision to translate basic science into clinical methods for reducing lung cancer disparities has resulted in Specialized Program of Research Excellence and Stand Up To Cancer grants awarded to Massey that focus on the interplay between “ZNA” (an individual’s zip code and neighborhood of association), DNA and overall cancer risk.

“If it’s about me, then I can’t do that,” Winn told the audience during his presentation at the AACR Annual Meeting 2022. “We — the collective we — have made a difference.”

Winn named several physician-scientists past and present who shaped his career, including Roger C. Bone, M.D., a now-deceased lung specialist and former president of Medical College of Ohio; Thomas L. Petty, M.D., a late Colorado lung specialist who pioneered a novel treatment option for acute respiratory distress syndrome; and Talmadge E. King, Jr., M.D., dean of the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs.

Winn also spoke about his award’s namesake, Jane Cooke Wright, who was a pioneer in cancer research and a surgeon who made several contributions to chemotherapy.

Winn ended the lectureship by discussing his plans to continue to lead Massey to be an institution offering patients the next generation of effective and least toxic cancer therapies available.

“I am focused, hellbent if you will, on not only developing a [cancer] survivorship and wellness clinic but developing the research that goes along with that,” Winn said.

A portion of this article is re-purposed with permission from a press release issued by AACR.

Written by: Amy Lacey

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