J. Evan Sadler, 1951-2018

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - [email protected]­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

A lead­ing haema­tol­o­gist who trans­formed our un­der­stand­ing of blood clot­ting has died.

J. Evan Sadler was born in Hunt­ing­ton, West Vir­ginia in 1951 and stud­ied chem­istry at Prince­ton Univer­sity (196973). He then moved on to Duke Univer­sity, where he gained both a PhD in bio­chem­istry (1978) and a med­i­cal de­gree (1979). Af­ter a postgrad­u­ate in­tern­ship at Duke, he com­pleted his fel­low­ship train­ing at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton, Seat­tle (1981-84).

In 1984, Pro­fes­sor Sadler joined the med­i­cal fac­ulty at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St Louis, Mis­souri, where he re­mained for the rest of his ca­reer. Ini­tially em­ployed as an as­so­ciate in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the Howard Hughes Med­i­cal In­sti­tute and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of medicine, he soon rose through the ranks, be­com­ing both a pro­fes­sor of medicine and pro­fes­sor of bio­chem­istry and molec­u­lar bi­ol­ogy in 1993, head of the Divi­sion of He­ma­tol­ogy in 2009 and Ira M. Lang pro­fes­sor of medicine in 2014.

Blood that clots when it shouldn’t and blood that fails to clot when it should can both lead to ma­jor med­i­cal prob­lems such as heart at­tacks, strokes and un­con­trolled bleed­ing (to­gether re­spon­si­ble for more deaths in the US than all types of can­cer put to­gether). Pro­fes­sor Sadler shed cru­cial light on such pro­cesses through his pi­o­neer­ing work on spe­cific pro­teins. This led to a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of von Wille­brand dis­ease, an in­her­ited bleed­ing dis­or­der. Other re­search showed that a de­fi­ciency of a pro­tein known as ADAMTS13 was re­spon­si­ble for a dis­or­der called throm­botic throm­bo­cy­topenic pur­pura, which causes clot­ting in small blood ves­sels.

Build­ing on this ba­sic re­search, Pro­fes­sor Sadler was able to set im­proved clin­i­cal guide­lines for di­ag­nos­ing and treat­ing these and other clot­ting and bleed­ing dis­or­ders. His achieve­ments in the field were widely recog­nised, no­tably in the 2018 Ex­em­plary Ser­vice Award­from the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of He­ma­tol­ogy.

Stu­art Korn­feld, David C. and Betty Far­rell pro­fes­sor of medicine at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity, de­scribed Pro­fes­sor Sadler as “a bril­liant sci­en­tist who was among the first to ap­ply the tools of re­com­bi­nant DNA tech­nol­ogy to the field of blood co­ag­u­la­tion. This, com­bined with the high qual­ity and great depth of his stud­ies, pro­pelled him to the top of his field…I have never met a more hum­ble and fair-minded in­di­vid­ual who was al­ways striv­ing for ex­cel­lence. Evan was the per­fect role model for the physi­cian-sci­en­tist path­way.”

Pro­fes­sor Sadler died af­ter a short ill­ness on 13 De­cem­ber and is sur­vived by his wife Linda Pike, alumni en­dowed pro­fes­sor of bio­chem­istry and molec­u­lar bio­physics at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity, a daugh­ter, a son and two grand­sons.

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