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Rachmiel Levine; Pioneer in Research on Diabetes

February 26, 1998|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dr. Rachmiel Levine, considered the father of modern diabetes research for his work with insulin, and a former executive at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, has died. He was 87.

Levine, former president of the American Diabetes Assn. and the International Diabetes Foundation, died Sunday of heart failure in Boston, City of Hope officials said Wednesday.

The internationally respected Levine joined the City of Hope in 1971 as its executive medical director.

By then he was already known for his breakthrough discovery at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago showing that insulin lowers blood sugar by stimulating movement of glucose into cells. Working with colleagues Maurice Goldstein and Samuel Soskin, Levine--with his "Levine effect" of movement--introduced a new era of research into how hormones modify cell function.

In 1978, supervising research by City of Hope and Genentech Inc. scientists, Levine was also at the forefront of producing human insulin from recombinant DNA.

"Dr. Levine was the most influential and unique figure in modern diabetes research," said Dr. Mayer B. Davidson, current president of the American Diabetes Assn. and associate director of clinical diabetes at the City of Hope.

Dr. John Kovach, executive vice president for medical and scientific affairs at the Duarte research and treatment institution, credited Levine for developing the City of Hope's diabetes program and earning it national recognition.

Orphaned in his native eastern Poland, Levine immigrated to Canada as a teenager and earned his degrees at McGill University and McGill Medical School in Montreal. He began his diabetes research in Chicago in 1936.

Levine was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983. He was also a member of the American Assn. of Physicians and earned several scientific medals for his research.

Three years ago the City of Hope honored him by establishing the Rachmiel Levine Diabetes Reading Room in its medical library.

Levine is survived by his daughter, Dr. Judith Feldman of Boston; son, Daniel, of Arlington, Texas; and three grandchildren.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the City of Hope National Medical Center, 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010-3000.

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