publication date: Feb. 12, 2021

Black History Month

VCU’s Rob Winn reflects on a year of COVID, racial reckoning, and being the sole Black director of an NCI-designated cancer center

Robert Winn 3

Robert Winn, MD

Director, VCU Massey Cancer Center;

Senior associate dean for cancer innovation, VCU School of Medicine;

Professor, Division of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University

 

Being Black and running an NCI-designated cancer center at a time of a worldwide pandemic, an ugly election, and a racial reckoning in a Southern town puts you in a position to make profound observations.

“Would I have chosen a different path or a different year to be a cancer center director? There are days where I think it would have been much easier,” said Robert Winn, director of VCU Massey Cancer Center.

For the next couple of weeks, until March 1, when Adekunle “Kunle” Odunsi becomes director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, Winn will remain the only Black director of an NCI-designated cancer center. (With Odunsi’s appointment, the number of Black cancer center directors doubles.)

Through 2020, Winn has guided readers of The Cancer Letter through issues of racial and economic disparities, pointing to the “digital divide” that separates the rich from the poor and the poor from the outside world (The Cancer Letter, March 20, 2020). 

After the killing of George Floyd by a police officer on a Minneapolis street, Winn … Continue reading VCU’s Rob Winn reflects on a year of COVID, racial reckoning, and being the sole Black director of an NCI-designated cancer center

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