June 2020

Remembering Earl Davie (1927-2020)

Earl W Davie, MD, PhD, professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Washington, died on June 6, 2020 at the age of 93. Earl was a pioneering biochemist whose discovery of the “waterfall cascade” sequence for blood clotting in 1964 paved the way for our understanding of the biochemical events leading to fibrin formation and blood clotting. This basic mechanism continues to be the basis for currently used diagnostic tests and therapies.

Earl met Bert and Kuggie Vallee in the early 1950s and remained a close friend. One of the early Vallee Visiting Professors, he went to Hans Jornvall’s lab at the Karolinska Institutet in 1999. “Uninterrupted time was, in many ways, the single most important aspect of my stay at the Karolinska. Free from the usual distractions of telephone calls, administrative duties, and teaching obligations, I was able to spend nearly three hours every morning thinking and planning both new and old projects underway in our laboratory, which also made it possible to clarify new approaches for our future research. It was a very beneficial and exciting experience in my scientific career.”

When asked once what he told his students, Earl replied that he tried to teach them to be well prepared. “Learn your studies well and learn how to do science and be ready to be lucky. Be prepared to be lucky. In science you try all kinds of things that you think you might want to study, that you think might be important, but if you are not well prepared it will slip through your fingers.”

Earl is remembered with great affection by all who knew him at the Vallee Foundation. “A gentle person yet a giant in his field. He made some real contributions to Bert's thinking about the Foundation and participated in its early activities,” wrote Jim Adelstein, former President of the Foundation. He – and his infectious chuckle – will be sorely missed.

Earl was intereviewed for the Vallee Foundation's oral history project in 2014. You can listen to it here. Obituaries with more details about his academic career and research achievements have been published in The Huddle (UW Medicine) and the Seattle Times.