Stuart B. Levy, M.D. (November 21, 1938 – September 4, 2019)
A Trailblazing Force in the Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance
We at the Levy CIMAR are honored to be named for Dr. Stuart B. Levy, whose pioneering work in fighting antibiotic misuse and resistance was a key inspiration behind our Center.
During his more than four decades at Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center, Dr. Levy led the paradigm shift in how we view antibiotic use and stewardship. In his work on mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and spread of resistance determinants among microbes, his was the first voice of warning of the dangers of antibiotic overuse in the emergence of drug resistance. His famous study showing that antibiotic resistance elements can be transferred from intestinal flora of farm animals to workers was a breakthrough (NEJM, 1976). It demonstrated that the use of antibiotics as livestock growth-enhancers was a dangerous practice with obvious risks to clinical care.
In 1981, Dr. Levy co-founded and served as president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA), a global organization with 66 chapters and members in more than 100 countries. His 1992 book, The Antibiotic Paradox: How Miracle Drugs Are Destroying the Miracle, proved prescient, and 20 years after its publication, the FDA issued guidelines for the judicious use of antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals to minimize the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. His laboratory discovered efflux as a mechanism of drug resistance, and this and other scientific achievements resulted in his founding the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM).
Dr. Levy’s outstanding contributions were recognized time and again, including the 2012 Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award, the Garrod Lecture for the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the SWAB Award from the Dutch Working Party on Antibiotic Policy, the Hoechst-Roussel Award from the American Society for Microbiology, the Hamao Umezawa Memorial Award from the International Society of Chemotherapy, and honorary degrees from Wesleyan and Des Moines Universities. He served as President of ASM and was an elected fellow in the American College of Physicians, the American Academy for Microbiology, the Infectious Disease Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2015, Dr. Levy received the Dean’s Medal, TUSM’s highest award, in recognition of his lifelong contributions.
In recognition of Dr. Levy’s legacy of promoting excellence in the field of antimicrobial resistance, Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center partnered in 2018 to establish the Tufts Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance (CIMAR). We soon hosted our first symposium in Dr. Levy’s honor, bringing together more than 175 clinicians and researchers from academia, medicine, and industry, all interested in fighting drug-resistant diseases via One Health approaches. A concept championed by Dr. Levy, One Health prioritizes the relationship among people, animals, the environment, and the foods we all consume as critical avenues by which drug-resistant bacteria spread from one to another.
Dr. Levy sadly passed away in 2019. He was remembered by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Lancet, and many others in articles about his myriad contributions to science. His loss was felt not only by his family, friends, and colleagues, but by the scientific community at large as well as those who were impacted directly by his work.
On September 18, 2020, we celebrated Dr. Levy’s life and work by renaming ourselves the Stuart B. Levy Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance at Tufts (or the Levy CIMAR) in his memory—see below for a video of the event. Through drug discovery, multidrug therapies, stewardship, surveillance, outreach and education, we strive to continue Dr. Levy’s tireless efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance.
On a personal level, Dr. Levy will always be remembered for his incredible collegiality and good cheer, his bowtie, and his professional-level ukulele playing. We are proud to have called him our friend.
Video: Dedication of the Stuart B. Levy CIMAR at Tufts, Sept 18, 2020
We were honored to rename our Center the Stuart B. Levy Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance at Tufts (or simply, the Levy CIMAR) on September 18, 2020. Friends, family, and colleagues from all over came together via Zoom to celebrate this event with Dr. Levy’s family and the members of our Senior Leadership.