Michelle Winn, MD

Faculty Member, Duke Molecular Physiology Institute


Associate Professor Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology Duke University Medical Center



It is with great sadness that we announce that DMPI faculty member Michelle Parthenia Winn, M.D., Associate Professor of Nephrology in the Department of Medicine, passed away July 23, 2014 after battling pancreatic cancer for more than a year.

Michelle grew up in a military family in North Carolina, attending the North Carolina School of Science and Math, and graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina Medical School. She first came to Duke in 1992 as an intern, and undertook residencies in Psychiatry and Medicine before focusing her career on Nephrology and joining the faculty.  As she herself said, she was interested in everything, and we all benefited from her brilliant intellect and deep curiosity.

Michelle was a wonderful clinician, a generous mentor and an esteemed physician-scientist who studied familial focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and other inherited kidney diseases.  In 2005, in a landmark Science paper, she reported that mutations in the TRPC6 gene caused FSGS, and she became an internationally recognized leader in her field. She received many awards and honors, but I will mention just a few.  Michelle received the Blue Ribbon Diversity Award from Duke in 2004, and soon after was the first minority scientist to receive the American Society of Nephrology Young Investigator Award. In 2007 she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, which is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.  In 2011, Michelle was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and had the special honor of giving an invited talk at the ASCI/AAP meeting that year. 

Michelle was respected and beloved by her colleagues, but always modest about her own achievements and deeply committed to the careers of younger physicians and scientists who orbited around her. Up to the very end of her life she put everyone else before herself, always giving, even as she faced great challenges with courage and dignity.