Cheryl Ann Winkler, Ph.D.
- Center for Cancer Research
- National Cancer Institute
Dr. Cheryl Winkler’s research focused on the role of genetic variation in health and disease and the genetic basis of a major health disparity in progressive chronic kidney disease, which disproportionality affects people of African ancestry. Dr. Winkler was an early pioneer on the impact of host genetic variation in HIV co-receptors (CCR5 and CXCR4), and their ligands on susceptibility to infection and rate of progression to AIDS defining conditions. Dr. Winkler discovered the association between a chromosome 22 region harboring MYH9 and APOL1 with HIV-associated nephropathy, affecting 10% of African Americans prior to the ART era, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), and kidney failure. Variants in APOL1 explained much of the three- to four-fold excess risk of kidney failure in Black Americans. More recently, Dr. Winkler and her collaborators found that APOL1 renal risk variants are associated with pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, a leading cause of premature births and both fetal and maternal mortality in African Americans. This work contributed to the development of targeted drug therapies for HIV and kidney disease, influenced recommendations for genetic testing in kidney disease and kidney transplantation, and highlighted the role of pathogen-selected genetic variants as a cause of ancestry-specific health disparities.
Areas of Expertise
1) genetic epidemiology 2) APOL1 3) health disparities 4) kidney disease 5) admixture mapping 6) global health
Association of APOL1 With Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction in Postmenopausal African American Women
Cheryl Ann Winkler, Ph.D.
Dr. Winkler received her B.S. degree from the University of New York at Albany where she studied literature and biology, graduating with honors. She completed her dissertation research in immunogenetics at the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute and obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the NCI, she became an early pioneer in investigating the host genetic architecture of infectious diseases and associated co-morbidities, and was among the first to use admixture mapping to identify genes associated with important health disparities. Dr. Winkler has over 230 publications and over 75 invited conference and academic presentations, including the Michele Winn Endowed Lectureship at the ASN conference. She was a Senior Investigator in the Basic Research Laboratory at NCI where she was Head of the Molecular Genetic Epidemiology Section and a Senior Principal Scientist with Leidos Biomedical Research at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. Recognition for her work includes the NIH Technology Award, the SAIC Publication Prize for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the SAIC Special Achievement Award for her landmark discovery of the chromosome 22 association with kidney disease in African Americans, and the Frederick National Laboratory Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Winkler retired as a Senior Investigator in October 2021 and is now an NCI Scientist Emeritus.