At this year’s ASN Kidney Week in Philadelphia Andrey Shaw, MD, presented the inaugural Michelle P Winn Endowed Lectureship. Dr Shaw was not only a longtime collaborator of Michelle’s but also a very close personal friend making him the perfect choice for this inaugural lectureship. Dr Shaw delivered an excellent talk interweaving highlights from Michelle’s stellar career with examples of Michelle’s fun loving and genuine kindhearted nature. I was lucky enough to work in Michelle’s lab from 2012 to 2014. She cared greatly about all her mentees both professionally and personally. She was a huge inspiration and a friend.
Michelle did her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina before going to medical school at East Carolina University. She then entered Duke University for residency and fellowship before joining the Duke faculty. Despite spending most of her career at Duke she remained a true Tar Heel (UNC) fan!
She received her training in classical human genetics from Drs Jeffery and Peggy Vance at the Duke Center for Human Genetics. In collaboration with another longtime friend and collaborator and early mentor at Duke, Dr Peter Conlon, Michelle began investigating the genetic heterogeneity of FSGS.
- Together Drs Winn and Conlon collected what is now one of the largest Familial FSGS datasets in the world.
- Michelle’s early work linked familial FSGS in one large family from New Zealand to a locus on chromosome 11.
- Following this she identified TRPC6 as the cause for FSGS in this family. This was a seminal paper published in Science and introduced an ion channel and calcium into the burgeoning field of podocyte biology.
- Michelle’s further work on TRPC6 made a huge contribution to the understanding of the biology of TRPC6 in kidney disease.
Michelle was also very interested in other inherited kidney diseases.
- She described linkage of a gene causing MPGN type III,
- identified TNXB mutations causing vesicoureteral reflux,
- was involved in studies of genetic factors influencing the development and progression of IgA nephropathy
- a hybrid CFHR3-1 gene causing familial C3 glomerulopathy.
- Her work also helped to define the disease burden and impact of other FSGS causing genes such as INF2, NPHS2 and PLCe1.
Towards the end of her career and even while fighting her illness she remained very involved and continued to contribute in a huge way to the field we all love.
- She discovered Anillin a new gene causing FSGS,
- a new mutation in the WT1 gene
- added further insights into the function and regulation of TRPC6 in podocytes.
Michelle was a leader in her field of podocyte biology and renal genetics. In 2007 Michelle won the ASN Young Investigator Award. I am sure that if her life had not been tragically cut short she would have been awarded the highest honors our specialty has to offer. The creation of the Michelle P Winn Endowed Lectureship is testament to this probability. Michelle was a beautiful person and will be missed by all who knew her.