Cheryl Ann Winkler, Ph.D.

Cheryl Ann Winkler, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
Cancer Innovation Laboratory


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

Genetic Epidemiology
Health Disparities
Kidney Disease
Admixture Mapping
Global Health


Selected Recent Publications

Genetic Testing for APOL1 Genetic Variants in Clinical Practice: Finally Starting to Arrive

Kopp JB, Winkler CA.
Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 15(1): 126-8, 2020. [ Journal Article ]

APOL1 Nephropathy Risk Alleles and Risk of Sepsis in Blacks

Chaudhary NS, Moore JX, Zakai NA, Judd SE, Naik RP, Limou S, Cushman M, Lange LA, Wang HE, Winkler CA, Irvin MR, Kopp JB, Gutiérrez OM.
Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 14(12): 1733-40, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

APOL1 Nephropathy Risk Alleles and Mortality in African American Adults: A Cohort Study

Gutiérrez OM, Irvin MR, Zakai NA, Naik RP, Chaudhary NS, Estrella MM, Limou S, Judd SE, Cushman M, Kopp JB, Winkler CA.
Am J Kidney Dis. 75(1): 54-60, 2020. [ Journal Article ]

Association of APOL1 With Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction in Postmenopausal African American Women

Franceschini N, Kopp JB, Barac A, Martin LW, Li Y, Qian H, Reiner AP, Pollak M, Wallace RB, Rosamond WD, Winkler CA.
JAMA Cardiol. 3(8): 712-20, 2018. [ Journal Article ]

A mouse recapitulating APOL1-associated kidney disease

Winkler CA, Nelson GW.
Nat Med. 23(4): 411-12, 2017. [ Journal Article ]