Dear colleagues and friends:
Please join me in welcoming Arthur S. Levine, M.D. as the new Executive Director of the Brain Institute. Art is already deeply involved in the activities of the Brain Institute, which would not exist without his enthusiastic intellectual and financial support. His special focus will be leading one of our major research initiatives, the “Assault on Alzheimer’s.” In this welcome letter, I’d like to relay just a few of the reasons I believe Art will be especially effective as a leader in the Institute he helped create.
Art comes to the Brain Institute after serving as one of the longest tenured deans of any medical school in the country. During Art’s 21 years in this critical role, he led Pitt into the top five of all American universities in NIH grants. He did this, in part, by using his singular ability to recognize, recruit and nurture scientific talent. In addition, as Dean and Senior Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences, Art has played a crucial role in charting the scientific path for UPMC, the country’s largest academic medical center. His insight, vision and experience will be critical to the Brain Institute as we press ahead with fundraising and other efforts on behalf of our 150-plus neuroscientists.
Art’s leadership experience at NIH will also be a great boon. Prior to his arrival at Pitt, Art was the Scientific Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The NICHD is recognized as one of the world’s top centers for developmental biology. Part of the Brain Institute’s mission is to understand how the brain develops to enable us to feel, think, move and learn. This mission includes discovering how to protect the developing brain from the effects of early adverse experiences – such as exposure to toxic environmental or behavioral conditions. These exposures alter brain development and are a pathway to depression, addiction, learning disorders and behavioral problems later in life. Our effort to understand key mechanisms in brain development will benefit greatly from Art’s knowledge and leadership of NICDH.
Finally, Art is, at heart, a scientist. His training and passion for science enabled him to maintain an active lab despite a remarkable administrative load. Art’s research on the cellular and molecular causes of disease and specifically the mechanisms of DNA repair will be vital to our Assault on Alzheimer’s. The Brain Institute’s unique contribution to this initiative will be to focus on the cellular and molecular root causes of the disease. This is where the Brain Institute will call on all of Art’s skills as a scientist and an administrator to promote the discoveries that will enable the development of new treatments and cures for this devastating disease.
Clearly, I haven’t provided an exhaustive list of Art’s remarkable scientific and leadership achievements. That would take a book. Art has been a close colleague and friend for 20 years, and I’m looking forward to what we can accomplish together in this next chapter for the Brain Institute.