Sagel, professor of radiology, 71

Stuart S. Sagel, MD, professor of radiology and former director of the chest radiology section at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, died Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, of leukemia. He was 71.

“Stuart Sagel was instrumental in shaping the Mallinckrodt Institute’s leading role in the early days of body computed tomography (CT),” says R. Gilbert Jost, MD, the Elizabeth E. Mallinckrodt Professor of Radiology and head of the Mallinckrodt Institute. “He became known all over the world for his contributions to the field of chest radiology.”

Sagel was born in Philadelphia and earned undergraduate and medical degrees at Temple University.

Sagel served as a medical intern at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and had additional post-graduate appointments at Yale University and the University of California, San Francisco. From 1970-72, he was a staff radiologist at Wilford Hall U.S. Air Force Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

Sagel came to Washington University in St. Louis in 1972 as an assistant radiologist.

In the late 1970s, the Mallinckrodt Institute became one of the first medical facilities to acquire a CT scanner. Sanjeev Bhalla, MD, associate professor of radiology, says Sagel soon began publishing a series of influential scientific papers on using CT in the clinic.

“His work really catapulted CT into becoming a state-of-the-art diagnostic tool,” says Bhalla, Sagel’s successor as director of chest radiology, now known as cardiothoracic imaging. “He was legendary among radiologists for this research, but you would never know it from working with him. He was a humble superstar.”

Sagel wrote and edited a textbook, Computed Body Tomography with MRI Correlation, that many radiologists regarded as the best in its field for decades.

“Dr. Sagel was the person to go to when you had a difficult case,” says Harvey S. Glazer, MD, professor of radiology. “When we were concerned, we would say, ‘Let’s show it to Dr. Sagel.’ And we always felt comfortable when we were looking at scans in the reading room, and he walked in.”

Sagel is survived by his wife, Beverlee; sons Scott, a graduate of the School of Medicine, Darryl and Brett; five grandchildren; a sister, Nancy Florin; and a brother, Bruce Sagel.

Private funeral services were held Nov. 13. Memorial contributions may be made to the Division of Oncology at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center.