Tufts Physician Honored for Lifetime Achievement

Stuart Levy has devoted his career to the perils of antibiotic resistance

Stuart B. Levy, distinguished professor of molecular biology, microbiology and medicine at Tufts School of Medicine, received the 2012 Abbott-American Society of Microbiology Lifetime Achievement Award, the organization’s highest award, given for sustained contributions to the microbiological sciences. Levy was recognized for decades of basic science research and his advisory work in antimicrobial drug resistance.

He is also director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance and co-founder and president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, which works with APUA chapters in more than 60 countries to promote effective use of antibiotics.

“Levy has dedicated most of his life to antibiotic resistance,” says his nominator, Hiroshi Nikaido, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. “Throughout his career, he has not only elucidated the genetics and biochemistry of one of the most important mechanisms for drug resistance, but also strived to minimize the selection and spreading of resistant bacteria.”

Stuart Levy. Photo: Alonso NicholsStuart Levy. Photo: Alonso Nichols
Stephen Lerner, an associate dean at Wayne State University School of Medicine, noted that Levy “has been a steadfast advocate for increased funding for research in areas related to drug resistance and for providing opportunities for a new generation of young investigators to enter the field. His fundamental discoveries might have simply gratified his thirst for knowledge,” he said. “However, he brought his studies and their implications beyond the laboratory to influence directions in infectious disease research and public health policy worldwide, increasing public and professional awareness of antibiotic resistance and of the proper use of antibiotics.”

Much of Levy’s work has focused on the mechanisms and control of resistance, in both bacterial and mammalian cells, working with tetracyclines as the paradigm. He also proved that the antibacterial chemical triclosan works like an antibiotic, and that bacteria can become resistant to it, leading to antibiotic resistance.

Levy is chief scientific officer and co-founder of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, which is developing new antibiotics to combat the growing resistance to currently available drugs.

In addition to basic science research, he has done studies in the environment and on farms. His landmark 1976 New England Journal of Medicine paper demonstrated the ecologic effects of introducing feed containing antibiotics to farm animals such as cows and pigs, leading to the transfer of resistant bacteria from the animals to farm workers.

Levy is an elected fellow of many professional societies, including the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Microbiology, the Infectious Disease Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Back to Top