Mouse Retrovirus Expert Evans of RML Dies
Dr. Leonard Henry “Pug” Evans, 77, chief of the retroviral molecular biology section at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont., unexpectedly passed away in the early morning of June 24.
After earning a Ph.D. from Oregon Health Sciences University, Evans was recruited to the Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases by Dr. Bruce Chesebro in 1980. Evans studied murine leukemia viruses at OHSU under Dr. David Kabat and continued studying retroviruses as a postdoctoral fellow under Drs. Peter Duesberg and Edward Scolnick at the University of California at Berkeley.
Evans was the “go-to” guy for information on mouse retroviruses and was an extremely careful and thorough scientist. His key discoveries included finding a glycosylated form of a retroviral gag protein encoded by exogenous, but not endogenous, retroviruses that protected them from host-mediated hypermutation by APOBEC3. He also showed that infections with exogenous viruses could mobilize the production of endogenous retroviral virions, which in turn could influence immune responses.
At the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Evans devoted his full attention to developing a therapeutic for Covid-19—studies that will now miss his leadership role. He was a beloved research mentor, and outside the lab he was known for his cooking skills and hosting the best parties in the Bitterroot Valley.
He is survived by his wife, Janice Dalton-Evans, and daughter, Julia (Stacy) Lockhart. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Patricia.