Dr. Levine’s research focuses on the causes of cancer. In 1979, he and others discovered the p53 tumor suppressor protein, a molecule that inhibits tumor development. At the Institute for Advanced Study, he established the Center for Systems Biology, which concentrates on research at the interface of molecular biology and the physical sciences – on genetics and genomics, polymorphisms and molecular aspects of evolution, signal transduction pathways and networks, stress responses, and pharmacogenomics in cancer biology.
In 2001, Dr. Levine was named the first recipient of the $500,000 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research for his discovery of a gene that normally protects against cancer but fails when a tiny change occurs in the gene. He was awarded two medals in 2000 for Outstanding Contributions to Biomedical Research by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Keio Medical Science Prize from Keio University Medical Science Fund. He was awarded the Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research in 2008, the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor in 2009, the Steven C. Beering Award for Advancement of Biomedical Science in 2010, and most recently, the 2012 Vallee Foundation Visiting Professorship, Harvard Medical School. As chair of the National Institutes of Health Commission on AIDS Research and the National Academies Cancer Policy Board, Dr. Levine has helped determine national research priorities.