Levy, a professor emeritus of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine and a staff physician at Tufts Medical Center, passed away in September 2019 at the age of 80. He retired in 2018 after 47 years at Tufts.
At a virtual event on Sept. 18, colleagues, family, and friends celebrated both the renaming of the center and the life of the researcher it now honors.
“Stuart was a giant in the field,” recalled John Leong, the Edith Rieva and Hyman S. Trilling Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts School of Medicine and a member of the Levy CIMAR leadership team. “He combined fundamental research and clinical practice and then could look down the road and see the consequences of unregulated, unthoughtful use of antimicrobial agents. He changed the way we think about how we use antibiotics.”
Levy laid some of the foundational work on the mechanisms and control of drug resistance and antibiotic stewardship. In 1976, he and his colleagues published results showing that antibiotics used in animal feed led to resistant bacteria that could transfer from animals to humans. Two years later, his lab showed that bacterial resistance to tetracycline, the same antibiotic used in the 1976 study, is due to an antibiotic efflux pump, or the bacteria pumping the antibiotic out of the cell. Levy spent the next 40 years researching the biological mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and advocating for the prudent use of antibiotics.
Launched in 2019, Levy CIMAR builds on Levy’s work and takes a One Health approach—a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort to improve the health of people, animals, and the environment—to AMR research, policy recommendations, and educational programs. Since its inception, the center has hosted research and education events including a symposium featuring presentations from Tufts clinicians and scientists working across the field of antimicrobial resistance. With Tufts School of Medicine’s Center for Science Education, it hosted a science outreach event and poster presentation with students from a Boston-area high school. Faculty working with the center have published recently on a new cell profiling technology to quickly determine how compounds kill tuberculosis bacterium, and antibiotic hypersensitivity signatures in Acinetobacter baumannii, a drug-resistant lung pathogen.
In just under two years, faculty working within the center have published more than 50 publications and secured the commitment of nearly $15 million in grant funds for AMR work.
The center was established as part of a strategic effort to identify research and scholarship priorities that leverage and promote multidisciplinary collaboration in order to create innovative solutions to pressing societal and global challenges.