Dec. 28, 2021 — Dr. Anthony Yachnis, a professor in the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine, pays tribute to his longtime colleague and friend, Edward J. Wilkinson, who died Dec. 21. He was 83.
It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of Dr. Edward J. Wilkinson, who provided outstanding clinical service, education, research, and leadership in the University of Florida Department Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine.
Dr. Wilkinson was a shining example of a role model for several generations of trainees and peers in pathology and a lifelong advocate for women’s health. In addition to his incredible experience and knowledge in his specialty of gynecological pathology, he was an engaging, kind and patient educator in his interactions with residents, fellows and faculty. He was always available to consult with trainees and faculty who brought him challenging cases to review. Dr. Wilkinson was particularly proud of the cytopathology fellowship, of which he was program director for 33 years, and which produced over 31 fellows. Many of them have carried on his tradition of excellence as faculty at UF and at other institutions.
Dr. Wilkinson did his medical training in Wisconsin in the mid-1960s and served as a major in the U.S. Air Force from 1969-1971. He joined the faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin as a clinician in obstetrics and gynecology during the early to mid-1970s but quickly segued to a second residency; this time in pathology at the Milwaukee County Medical Complex. In the late 1970s, he became director of cytology at Milwaukee County General Hospital as an associate professor of pathology, obstetrics and gynecology.
Dr. Wilkinson joined the faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1980 as a professor in the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine and an adjunct professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology. A true citizen of the College of Medicine for over 30 years, he served in many administrative capacities, including director of surgical pathology; director and chief of anatomic pathology; vice chair of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine; interim department chair from 1996-1999; and medical director for the Diagnostic Reference Laboratory, now UF Path Labs. He served on the UF College of Medicine Faculty Council and the UF Health Shands Board of Directors as a faculty representative. He also was president of the Florida Society of Pathologists and chaired several committees of the American Society of Colposcopy & Cervical Cytology and the American Cancer Society. The tremendous growth and success of anatomic pathology services at the University of Florida College of Medicine from the early 1990s to the late 2010s in both local and outreach endeavors were in large part guided by Dr. Wilkinson’s wisdom, sound judgement, caring and steadfast leadership.
He was a world expert in gynecological diseases, and while Dr. Wilkinson had many peer-review publications, it is notable that most of these were written with trainees. Indeed, he provided many opportunities for early career faculty to publish with him. He also published extensively with colleagues in obstetrics and gynecology including his collaboration with Dr. Keith Stone, with whom he co-authored “The Atlas of Vulvar Disease,” which has been considered the definitive work on female lower genital tract diseases. Dr. Wilkinson served for many years as editor in chief of the “Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease.”
Always interested in pursuing new knowledge, Dr. Wilkinson continued to attend Zoom meetings for pathology grand rounds or other presentations of interest after he retired. He left us 10 recommendations for success when he retired that remain posted outside the cytopathology sign-out area. Three of these exemplify his charm.
- Always think the best of people, they may surprise you.
- It is possible to be very knowledgeable and talented and still be a nice person.
- Have a happy heart and a smile, it can carry you through the day and might help someone.
We will miss him dearly.
Dr. Anthony Yachnis
Professor, Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine
UF College of Medicine
View Dr. Wilkinson’s obituary here.