H. Richard Winn was born in Chester, Pennsylvania on March 30, 1942 to Dorothy and Charles Winn. His father practiced otolaryngology for 40 years in this mid-sized city in Southeastern Pennsylvania on the Delaware River. Dick was the second of three boys and grew up in Wallingford, Pennsylvania where he attended local schools. He was graduated from Haverford School in 1960. Following in the footsteps of his older brother Sam, he received his A.B. from Princeton University in 1964 and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. Planning a career in general surgery, he completed his internship and one year of general surgery at Case Western Reserve University. It was at the latter institution where he met John Jane and Martin Weiss, whose influence resulted in a career change into neurological surgery.
In 1970, he began his residency at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, moving with John Jane from Cleveland. As part of his residency training he spent a year in England and had the opportunity to initiate clinical research on the natural history of cerebral aneurysms at Atkinson Morleys Hospital working with Alan Richardson and pursuing long-term outcome studies initiated by Sir Wylie McKissock. Following military service in Germany, Dick returned to Charlottesville where he pursued basic science training in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular physiology under the direction of Robert M. Berne, Professor of Physiology. It was in this laboratory setting that Dick began his studies on the role of adenosine and cerebral blood flow regulation He has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1974 for this ongoing effort. He held faculty positions in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Physiology at the University of Virginia, rising to full Professor and Vice Chairman of Neurological Surgery until 1983 when he moved to University of Washington as the Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery with joint Professorship in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.
His clinical interests are centered on cerebrovascular disease, trauma and oncology while simultaneously continuing to pursue basic investigations in the role of adenosine in cerebral blood flow regulation. For this latter area, he has been awarded a Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award. Other honors include being selected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1992) "for studies in cerebral metabolism and for pioneering investigations defining the physiologic regulation of brain blood flow," the Wakeman Award for Research in the Neurosciences (1990), the Sir Wylie McKissock Neuroscience Prize (1992) from St. Georges Medical School, London and the Grass Foundation Award (1999) from the Society of Neurological Surgery "for excellence in research contributions in the areas of science and academic neurosurgery." He also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Haverford School (2000).
In 1965 he married Deborah Dash (Cornell, 1965; University of Pennsylvania, M.A. 1967) who has pursued a teaching career and raising two children: D. Randall (born October 6, 1969) and Allison S. (born June 12, 1973). The former graduated from Princeton University in 1992 and is now in investment banking in New York, while the latter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995 and, after a career as an actress, helped start Itsybits.com.