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Doctor Mom

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Virginia Winn and family hiking in Colorado

Alumna's role as Mom has been critical to better understanding her patients

by Donna Parker

Virginia Winn '88

Virginia Winn is preparing to return to the City by the Bay, where she spent her OB/GYN residency and she’s very excited about the move after years in Colorado.

“Having gone to the University of California San Francisco for training, I’m very familiar with the Bay Area,” explains Virginia, who is moving to join her husband Lenny who was recently recruited by Genentech in Palo Alto.

Virginia’s new position will be at Stanford University School of Medicine as an associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology and chief of perinatal biology. She previously served as the associate professor of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and cell and developmental biology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

She specializes in the study of normal and abnormal placentas in pregnant women and has published in 29 peer-reviewed and editorial publications on her findings. Biology at the cellular level is her passion and has been since she was a teen.

“I knew from the time I was a Trinity student that I wanted to do medical research,” says Virginia. “I picked Trinity because I wanted a liberal arts education plus an amazing research experience, which the school provides beautifully.”

Virginia cites professor Lawrence Espey as a true inspiration who taught her the meaning of scientific integrity and was, as she says, “a bright and great scientist.”

“He really was instrumental in reinforcing my commitment to science and the integrity of determining the truth,” she says. Winn also praises professors John Burke and Nancy Mills in chemistry and Robert Blystone in biology. “Now that I’m teaching, I can feel how much they were giving. It had such a great impact on me that it reinforces my own commitment to my students.”

She also cites University Chaplains Raymond Judd and Douglass Guthier as having a tremendous influence on her life. She enjoyed attending weekly church services in the Parker Chapel.

There was still time for fun, though. Virginia, who went by Gin on campus, roomed with Berit Dismer and the pair was known as Grin and Berit, making regular midnight runs to TC’s (Taco Cabana). She also played in the flute choir and jazz band.

After Trinity, Virginia moved to New York for medical school and became a mother during her very challenging OB/GYN residency, and proudly states that her patient interaction skills improved as soon as she became a mother herself. “I am a much better OB/GYN!”

Her two children Kathryn, now 14 and Samuel, 12 both attend a school of the performing arts and although her daughter is eyeing a career in theater, Virginia believes there is medical school in her future, as Kathryn routinely diagnoses the medical problems when she watches the popular ABC television series “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“She’s far more interested in diagnosing those than she is in the relationships on the show,” laughs Virginia.

When not hard at work, the family loves all things food, including the Food Network. They love to sample new restaurants, but at home Lenny does most of the cooking while Virginia plays sous chef. 

The only thing missing in her life, she says, is a little more time to travel, but with the upcoming move across the country, the family happily looks forward to settling into a small community-oriented neighborhood in the San Francisco area.

“Our lives are packed, with Lenny and I trying to be physician scientists and the kids participating in the performing arts. Life, as they say, is good.”

You may email Virginia at vwinn [at] stanford.edu.