Jay A. Levy, MD
Jay A. Levy, MD, an AIDS and cancer researcher and an educator in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is presently professor in the Department of Medicine and research associate in the Cancer Research Institute. He is head of the Laboratory for Tumor and AIDS Virus Research at UCSF. Dr. Levy graduated with high honors in 1960 from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and was awarded Fulbright and French government fellowships to conduct research in Paris. He earned his MD degree in 1965 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. From 1965 to 1967 he was an intern and resident at the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia.
From 1967 to 1970 he was a staff associate at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, where he conducted research on DNA and RNA cancer viruses. In 1972 Dr. Levy was appointed assistant professor at UCSF in the Department of Medicine, where he established a laboratory for the study of tumor viruses; he has been a full professor since 1985.
For more than 25 years, Dr. Levy and his researchers have dedicated their efforts to the study of AIDS. In 1983 he co-discovered the AIDS virus, HIV, which he originally called the AIDS-associated retrovirus (ARV). He pioneered heat-treatment studies that demonstrated how to inactivate HIV in clotting factor preparations. This approach, for which he received the Murray Thelin Award from the National Hemophilia Foundation, has protected many hemophiliacs from HIV infection. He was the first to report the presence of HIV in the brain and bowel and linked it to diseases in these tissues. His group was also the first to demonstrate the ability of CD8+ lymphocytes in healthy infected people to suppress HIV replication by a noncytotoxic mechanism, showing that inhibition is mediated, at least in part, by a secreted CD8+ cell antiviral factor (CAF). This discovery presents a new insight into how the host immune system can control viral infection without killing the infected cell. Dr. Levy is currently conducting studies directed at defining the structure of CAF as well as the development of an AIDS vaccine and approaches for immune-based therapies.
Dr. Levy is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was given the Award of Distinction by the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Wesleyan University and an honorary degree in science from that university. He was chosen by the San Francisco Examiner as one of the ten most influential people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Levy has published over 450 scientific articles and reviews and is the author or editor of 14 books dealing with viruses and immunology. Among these is his acclaimed four-volume series, the Retroviridae, and his seminal sole-authored book HIV and the Pathogenesis of AIDS, now in its third edition.