NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NCI’s Winn Retires

Dr. Winn
Dr. Deborah Winn

Dr. Deborah Winn, senior advisor to the director of the Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP), and who served as acting director of the division from January 2019 to July 2020, is retiring at the end of January 2021. She shepherded DCP during the early months of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to prepare the division and its presumptive new director, who arrived in July 2020, for a productive future despite this difficult time.

Winn has held a variety of leadership positions at NCI, including deputy director of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS). Upon retirement, she will participate as a special volunteer, so NCI will continue to benefit from her expertise and mentorship.

Winn is recognized for sharing her 40-plus years’ experience in the federal government as an accomplished scientist and leader in the prevention and control of cancer and other diseases. Throughout her career, she has played a critical role in developing and facilitating initiatives to foster population sciences research, both nationally and internationally. She is internationally recognized for her epidemiologic research on tobacco and head and neck cancer. Winn’s other research interests include environmental risk factors for breast cancer; evaluating the impact of epidemiologic findings on clinical practice and public health; and development of research resources, infrastructures and policies.

In addition to her scientific accomplishments, Winn is respected for her thoughtful approach to many complex and controversial issues at the interface of science, policy, the environment and public health. She has been a key spokesperson for epidemiologic topics of interest to Congress and the public and has provided legislative testimony on topics including smokeless tobacco; breast cancer and the environment research; and the relationship between the environment, genes and cancer. She has served as the DCCPS lead expert on complex and often controversial issues, including cancer and cell phones, cancer and abortion, and cannabis use and cancer. 

Winn contributed to the genesis of NIH’s All of Us Research Program and provided leadership to the NCI Cohort Consortium since its inception in 2000; she co-led the interagency breast cancer and environmental research coordinating committee; and served as co-chair of the Network for Direct Patient Engagement implementation team to address one of the Cancer Moonshot recommendations for accelerating cancer research. 

While at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she was deputy director of the Division of Health Interview Statistics with responsibilities to assist the director in the scientific and administrative management of the National Health Interview Survey that conducts interviews every year with 50,000 American households on a wide range of health topics. 

Winn is a fellow of the American College of Epidemiology. She has received numerous awards at NCI and NIH including the NCI Director’s Champion Career/Lifetime Achievement Award for exceptional leadership and service to NCI in the area of cancer control and population sciences; two Public Health Service Awards; and numerous NIH Merit Awards.

Winn also will be fondly remembered for her love of the craft of art glass and for proudly displaying and explaining the intricate process involved in hand-made plates, beads and other delicate glass creations. 

To leave her a farewell message, visit

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