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Levine named co-director of Mayo Clinic/ASU Obesity Solutions Initiative

Dr. James Levine
January 15, 2013

James A. Levine, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic and a world-renowned leader in obesity research and child advocacy, has been named co-director of the Mayo Clinic/Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative. 

Levine has been appointed a tenured professor in ASU’s School of the Science of Health Care Delivery in the College of Health Solutions, as well as in the School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Biological and Health Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He also will continue as a professor at Mayo Clinic

The obesity initiative, co-directed by ASU Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth D. Phillips, will move beyond traditional modes of doing medicine and science, applying new approaches that are more multi-faceted, trans-disciplinary, innovative and agile. The goal is to develop simple solutions that work for real people in the real world. Researchers will seek to understand how different facets of obesity impact each other – from surgical solutions, to helping someone talking with their doctor about how to eat better, to creating walkable neighborhoods and promoting thoughtful global food policy.

Levine is an international expert on obesity. In the United States, he has been an invitee to the President’s Panel and the State Department. Internationally, he has consulted with governments around the world. 

The author of the non-fiction work “Move A Little Lose A Lot,” he has published more than 150 articles on building effective solutions to obesity for adults and children, including five in the journals Science and Nature. His research has focused on physiological, technological and environmental approaches to help people become more active, decrease cardiovascular risk and become healthier. He has developed multiple body-worn devices that measure physical activity and caloric intake, and the desk treadmill, which is in use in some ASU offices. 

He also has crusaded against the abuse of children, and his international best-selling novel about childhood prostitution, "The Blue Notebook," has been published in 27 languages in 34 countries and has effected policy changes concerning child prostitution. 

“Obesity is perhaps that fastest spreading epidemic in the United States, threatening the health of young and old alike.  It is exactly the kind of challenge that ASU, as the New American University, must undertake,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “The Mayo Clinic/ASU Obesity Solutions Initiative, another innovative partnership between ASU and Mayo Clinic, will make tangible and significant headway in solving this challenge. One glance at James Levine’s credentials and it is obvious that there is no one better to help lead this effort.”

“Jim Levine is a highly creative entrepreneurial scientist who energizes all of us to do our best and make progress on the problem of obesity,” said Philips. “He crosses many disciplines and fields, a true Renaissance man. We are thrilled he has joined us.”

“Only by many societal actors marching together – as one – will we solve obesity,” said Levine. “We can reverse obesity and we must.”

“Together, Mayo Clinic and ASU are poised to advance research in obesity solutions, to provide education about preventing obesity and to care for patients suffering from obesity. Dr. Levine’s connection to both Mayo and ASU will be a crucial component of our work together,” says Wyatt W. Decker, CEO, Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Levine received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in London, and doctor of philosophy and doctor of medicine degrees from the Royal Free Hospital and was the Elmore Medical Research Scholar at the University of Cambridge, UK. He did postgraduate internships at the Royal Free Hospital (in medicine), Wellhouse Trust (in surgery) and Mayo Graduate School of Medicine (in internal medicine), where he also was a fellow in endocrinology.

He became a senior associate consultant in endocrinology, nutrition and internal medicine at Mayo in 1998 and later became a professor of medicine (2004), the Richard Emslander Professor of Nutrition and Metabolism (2006), professor of physiology (2007) and professor of bioengineering (2007). He continues to hold all four positions Mayo Clinic.

Levine has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on more than 30 federal grants and contracts. In addition, Levine has won more than three dozen awards across a range of disciplines, including nutrition, biomedical research, tropical medicine, surgery, endocrinology, cardiology and journalism.

Levine is a member of the Board of the International Society for Missing and Exploited Children. In 2010, Doctors Without Borders commissioned him to visit people living with SIDA (AIDS) in Kinshasa, where the novella he wrote, "Makass," appeared in a collection, "Dignita," with Mario Vargus Llosa, the Nobel laureate. His team has a keen focus on underserved communities with a particular reference to poverty and he has worked with the Native American and Hispanic communities.