Massey’s Director Honored with Irby Award



dr winn
Robert A. Winn, M.D., at the 2023 MCV Foundation Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony
Photo: Chris Ijams

Arriving during a worldwide pandemic in 2020, Robert A. Winn, M.D., took the helm of VCU Massey Cancer Center with a flourish, immediately instituting changes that helped the cancer center achieve something it had been seeking for decades — comprehensive designation from National Cancer Institute, the highest level of recognition among the 71 NCI-designated cancer centers across the U.S.

Dr. Winn is the director and Lipman Chair in Oncology, senior associate dean for cancer innovation and a professor of pulmonary disease and critical care medicine at the VCU School of Medicine. He is the first African American to lead a cancer center to achieve comprehensive status.

Dr. Winn’s efforts have led to more recruitment of talented researchers and physicians from all over the country, more opportunities for clinical trials, and significant increases in grants and funding, including $52.7 million in grant funding this year to support diversity in clinical scholars and clinical trials programs. All of this he has done with an eye toward dismantling health disparities through creating a community-focused health care system that seeks out and treats the most vulnerable patients. 

“From the moment that Dr. Winn arrived in early 2020, he has had a profound and positive impact on the Massey Cancer Center, its programs and most importantly, the lives of those living with cancer,” said Ellen Spong, chair of the MCV Foundation Board of Trustees. “Faced with the additional and immediate challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Winn deftly led the cancer center as it adapted its critical functions and research initiatives to ensure that patients receive new care in a safe environment. Simultaneously, he began to incorporate his vision for a new brand of cancer center and in a remarkably short period of time, these ambitious initiatives have resulted in impressive outcomes.”

Established in memory of Robert Irby, M.D., an MCV rheumatologist who was devoted to securing financial support for campus, this award is presented to a faculty member who has assisted with major fundraising efforts.