Obituary: J. Evan Sadler, director of hematology, 67

Evan Sadler photo

Pioneering hematologist J. Evan Sadler, MD, PhD, a world-renowned expert in the study and treatment of blood clotting disorders and director of the Division of Hematology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, at his home in Clayton, Mo., following a brief illness. He was 67.

Sadler, the Ira M. Lang Professor of Medicine, was also a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics. His work helped reveal reasons why blood clots when it shouldn’t and why it fails to clot when it should. Such disorders lead to heart attacks, strokes and uncontrolled bleeding, which together cause more deaths annually in the United States than all types of cancer combined.

“Evan was a brilliant scientist who was among the first to apply the tools of recombinant DNA technology to the field of blood coagulation,” said Stuart Kornfeld, MD, the David C. and Betty Farrell Professor of Medicine. “This, combined with the high quality and great depth of his studies, propelled him to the top of his field. On a personal level, 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.”

Sadler pioneered the study of proteins called von Willebrand factor and ADAMTS13, which play vital roles in orchestrating the events that lead blood to clot. His research led to a more detailed understanding of different types of von Willebrand disease — knowledge that improved diagnosis and treatment of this inherited bleeding disorder. Deficiency of the protein ADAMTS13 is the cause of a clotting disorder called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), which causes blood to clot in small blood vessels, blocking proper blood flow to vital organs.

Sadler’s work understanding the structure and function of this protein shed light on why ADAMTS13 is required for normal blood clotting. Based on his lab’s basic research, Sadler also led work to improve the clinical guidelines used to diagnose and treat these and other clotting and bleeding disorders.

He is survived by his wife, Linda J. Pike, the Alumni Endowed Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Washington University; daughter, Brooke E. Sadler; son, Evan D. Sadler; mother, Clara Rose Sadler; and two grandsons, Jasper and Dexter Haller.

Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, at Lupton Chapel, 7233 Delmar Blvd., University City, Mo. Private funeral services will be held the following morning.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: Washington University in St. Louis, c/o Rachel Hartmann, Campus Box 1247, 7425 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63105-2126, to support the J. Evan Sadler, MD, PhD Award.

Read the full obituary on the School of Medicine site.

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