Beth Levine, MD
Beth Levine, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology, Director of the Center for Autophagy Research, and Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern), and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, died on June 15, 2020, after a long battle with cancer. Dr. Levine is recognized as a leader in the field of autophagy research. She was 60 years old.
Dr. Levine was born in Newark, New Jersey, on April 7, 1960. After obtaining a degree in French studies from Brown University in 1981, she went on to earn her medical degree from Weill Cornell in 1986 and served as a resident at Mount Sinai New York City Hospital in internal medicine until 1989.
In 1989, she joined the lab of Dr. Diane Griffin at Johns Hopkins University in a postdoctoral position, working on infectious diseases and the neurobiology of viral pathogens. In 1992, she joined Columbia University, and from 1994 to 2004, Dr Levine served as the institution’s Director of Virology Research. In 2004, she moved to UT Southwestern to become Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and in 2011, she was appointed Director of the Center for Autophagy Research. Dr. Levine also served as an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, beginning in 2008.
A Leader in Her Specialty
Dr. Levine specialized in the field of autophagy, more specifically, in its regulation and its role in diverse diseases, including cancer and infectious diseases. Her major contributions include the discovery of the mammalian autophagy gene, beclin 1, now the most studied mammalian autophagy protein, and its role in tumor suppression, longevity, and antimicrobial host defense. In 2014, she was awarded the American Society for Clinical Investigation’s Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award in recognition of her fundamental contributions to the understanding of autophagy.
Dr. Levine was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013. She was a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.
From a statement issued by UT Southwestern: “Dr. Levine will be remembered by colleagues as an elegant, driven, and focused researcher who demanded the best from herself and the more than 50 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers she mentored. Because of her efforts, autophagy moved from being a phenomenon observed in yeast to becoming recognized as an important mechanism of maintaining human health.”
Dr. Levine is survived by her husband, Milton Packer, MD, a cardiologist and former Professor and Chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences at UT Southwestern, and her two children, Rachel and Ben.