Although Dr. Levine and his colleagues were able to publish their theory, it took them years to thoroughly convince the scientific community. Once accepted, Dr. Levine's theory opened up doors to a new era of hormone research.
The following illustrates insulin action as reviewed by Dr. Levine in his article entitled, "Insulin Action: 1948-80":
Fig. 3. Illustrates the state of knowledge of insulin prior to 1949. In 1946, Colowick, Price and Cori reported that insulin’s primary role was its involvement in carbohydrate metabolism, specifically the transformation to glucose-6-phosphate by hexokinase. It was reported that insulin had no influence when added directly by itself and that all relevant reactions occurred in the cell interior.3
Fig. 4. Illustrates insulin action, as Dr. Levine perceived it, during years 1949 and 1956. He approached the study by testing the distribution of an assortment of sugars given intravenously in eviscerated animals. He chose monosaccharides that were no phosphorylated by the extrahepatic tissues, such as galactose, xylose and arabinose. His studies provided that insulin assisted the entrance of certain selected sugars (i.e. galactose, d-xylose and 1-arabinose) into the cell interior. In addition, these sugars were not utilized or chemically altered. This suggested that the glucose transport system was stereo specific in regard to the molecules that it translocated and it seemed to require a minor contribution of metabolic energy.3
Dr. Levine's research success continued at the City of Hope National Medical Center as he developed the City of Hope Diabetes Program. In 1978, Dr. Levine encouraged Dr. Arthur D. Riggs and Dr. Keiichi Itakura to genetically engineer E-coli bacteria to produce human insulin (Humulin®). This new preparation of human insulin was the first genetically engineered health care product approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and is now used by over 4 million people worldwide. Dr. Rachmiel Levine retired from City of Hope on November 15, 1991 but continued to contribute to the scientific community until the last weeks of his life. He left behind a legacy of over sixty years of diabetes research and served as mentor and advisor to many. Dr. Levine set an example for all scientists with his concept of a good scientist: "In my opinion a good research scientist needs to have endless curiosity and enormous amounts of patience, since answers in the field of research come slowly and most painfully."
Dr. Levine was married to the late Anne Gussack, a psychiatric social worker and is survived by his daughter, Judith Anne Feldman, MD, a Boston psychiatrist and his son, Daniel Saul Levine, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Rachmiel Levine died in Boston, Massachusetts on February 24, 1998, but will be remembered for his great contributions to the scientific world. Below is a small sample of the awards and honors that Dr. Levine received over the course of his lifetime.
- Executive Medical Director, Emeritus: City of Hope
- American Diabetes Association's Banting Medal
- American Diabetes Association's Charles H. Best Medal
- Joslin Medal
- Thompson Medal
- President of Harvey Society
- Member of American Association of Physicians
- Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Spirit of Life Award: City of Hope
- Lydia and Paul Kalmanovitz Chair in the Biology of Nutrition at City of Hope
- Honorary Doctorate of Science degrees: Northwestern and McGill Universities
- 1964-1965: President of the American Diabetes Association
- 1967-1970: President and currently Life President of International Diabetes Federation
- 1980: New York College of Medicine dedicates diabetes center in honor of Dr. Levine
- 1982: Elected into National Academy of Sciences
- 1986: W.D. Sansum Award
- 1995: City of Hope dedicated the Rachmiel Levine, MD, Diabetes Reading Room in its Lee Graff Medical Library
R Levine, MS Goldstein, B Huddlestun, SP Klein. Action of insulin on the permeability of cells to free hexoses, as studied by its effect on the distribution of galactose. Am J Physiol 163:70-76, 1950.
R Levine, M Goldstein. On the mechanism of action of insulin. Recent Prog Horm Res 11:343-380, 1955.
R Levine. Insulin action: 1948-80. Diabetes Care 4:38-44, 1981.
<< 1 2