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2018 Distinguished Scientist -
Robert A. Levine, MD, FAHA

Robert A. Levine, MD, FAHARobert A. Levine, MD, FAHA
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Attending Physician, Division of Cardiology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Mass.

Dr. Levine is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Attending Physician in the Division of Cardiology and Noninvasive Cardiology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Building on innovations in cardiac imaging, he has addressed the challenge of how we can detect heart valve disease early and prevent its progression to heart failure. His initial discovery of the nonplanar shape of the mitral valve redefined prolapse of that valve with the specificity needed to seek genetic causes. To achieve that goal, he forged and has directed an international Leducq network that promotes dynamic interactions between clinical and basic scientists with the shared mission of finding treatable disease mechanisms. The network has discovered the first causative familial genes and genome-wide variations associated with mitral valve prolapse. They are now exploring how mutations cause progressive valve disease and how disease evolution can be prevented.

With colleagues in cell biology and signaling, he recognized that in the remodeling heart after myocardial infarction, valves respond to stretch by adaptive cell growth. This growth is limited by maladaptive inflammation and fibrosis that increases mitral regurgitation (MR) in treatable ways. He has shown that infarction-related MR adversely impacts normally perfused myocardium, driving ventricular remodeling and failure; this can be alleviated by effective valve repair and biological interventions. By demonstrating mitral valve enlargement in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and its essential role in ventricular outflow tract obstruction, he aims to modulate that valve enlargement to prevent obstruction physiologically.

Dr. Levine has mentored many international leaders to create a community of investigators who are advancing this new approach to prevent heart valve disease and preserve myocardial function and patient well-being.