Rachmiel Levine

City of Hope National Medical Center

August 26, 1910 - February 22, 1998


Election Year: 1983
Scientific Discipline: Medical Physiology and Metabolism
Membership Type: Member

Rachmiel Levine’s classic research on insulin and peptide hormones established him as a leader in the area of diabetes.  His discovery that insulin enhanced glucose metabolism by stimulating glucose transport within skeletal muscle led to the development of modern diabetes research and treatment.  Levine showed that glucose concentration regulated hepatic and peripheral glucose disposal, meaning that the inhibition of hepatic glucose output, the enhancement of glucose usage by extrahepatic tissues, the inhibition of peripheral protein breakdown, and the uptake of potassium and phosphate were all caused by raising the concentration of plasma glucose.  Levine used these insights to demonstrate that insulin facilitated these processes, achieving qualitatively similar results. He also clarified the action of insulin on carbohydrate and intermediary metabolism by examining the effect of insulin on membrane transport processes instead of intracellular enzyme systems.  He contributed to the understanding of metabolic control by determining that the synergistic effects of glucocorticoids, catecholamines, and pituitary overstimulation all caused insulin resistance.  

Levine received his B.A. in 1932 and his M.D. in 1936, both from McGill University.  He interned at Michael Reese Hospital for the next three years before becoming assistant director of the hospital’s Department of Metabolic and Endocrine Research in 1939.  In 1942, he became the director of the department, holding the position until 1960.  From 1950 to 1960, Levine was also the chairman of the hospital’s Department of Medicine.  During these 21 years, he was also a professorial lecturer of physiology at the University of Chicago.  He left the hospital in 1960 to become the chairman and professor of the Department of Medicine at New York Medical College.  After ten years, he went to the City of Hope Medical Center as an executive medical director and was promoted to the director of research in 1978.  Along with being a member of the American Physiological Society and the American Association of Physicians, Levine served as president of the following organizations: International Diabetes Foundation (1967-1970), American Diabetes Association (1965), Association for Research of Nervous and Mental Diseases (1967), and Harvey Society (1968).  He received numerous awards including the Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement of the American Diabetes Association in 1961, the Thompson Medal of the American Geriatric Society in 1970, and the Gairdner Award in 1971.

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