Remembering Barbara Winkler, MD

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing on April 5, 2020 from COVID-19 of my friend and colleague, Barbara Winkler M.D.  For the many of us that knew and loved Barbara, her death is a tremendous loss. Barbara began her career in anatomic pathology and quickly developed an expertise in gynecologic and obstetric pathology.  After her residency and fellowship at Columbia University she traveled to the University of California, San Francisco where she was an attending in the pathology and OB/GYN departments.  There she met and worked with both Joel Palefsky and Teresa Darragh, two pillars in the anal HPV field.  Barbara authored many publications on HPV related dysplasia and cancer in the lower genital track.  

It was after her return to New York that I met Barbara and she literally changed the course of my career. I received a biopsy report from Quest Diagnostics of what I thought was a typical condyloma, but as you might have guessed, it said “condyloma and high-grade dysplasia”.   I called the pathologist, a Dr. Barbara Winkler, and asked her if this was the type of dysplasia found in adenomatous polyps. She said, “No, it’s squamous and similar to cervical dysplasia.”  I had never seen that before and as I received more and more pathology reports with high-grade dysplasia, Barbara came to my rescue and said, “You really should speak to my friends in San Francisco who are studying this problem.” And the rest is history.  Not only did Barbara launch this phase of my career, but she actually took time from her demanding clinical schedule and came with me to the operating room in New York City the first time I did HRA.  Barbara was a skilled colposcopist as well as a pathologist and she patiently (and firmly) guided me through consecutive examinations.  I can still hear her gently prodding “That’s nothing don’t biopsy” or “biopsy here where it is indurated” or “I may use a microscope but please give me a little more tissue!” (Fortunately for both of us the patients were under general anesthesia.) Over the years we discussed cases at least weekly and often daily, as we learned from each other.  She taught me that you really can talk to your pathologist because they can be quite wonderful people!  Barbara developed an interest in anal HPV related pathology and became an expert in this field giving her famous “Tushy Talks” to other clinicians, serving on pathology panels and publishing scholarly research.  In 2001, she helped author my first paper on the subject.  Barbara leaves behind her husband, Dr. David Enrique (Rick) Monsanto, daughter, Gabriela, and son-in-law, Kevin as well as countless colleagues and friends she has touched in a deeply intellectual and personal way.  We lost a remarkable woman who made the world a much better place. Rest in peace, Barbara.

Stephen E. Goldstone, MD FACS

The International Anal Neoplasia Society

P.O. Box 1543
Leesburg, Virginia 20177

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