Arthur D. Levinson Biography

Arthur D. Levinson is a molecular biologist and entrepreneur, best known for developing therapeutics for various forms of cancer. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family, career, and achievements.

Quick Facts

Birthday: March 31, 1950

Nationality: American

Famous: CEOs Microbiologists

Age: 70 Years, 70 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Aries

Born Country: United States

Born in: Seattle, Washington, United States

Famous as: Microbiologist


father: Sol Levinson

mother: Malvina

U.S. State: Washington

City: Seattle, Washington

More Facts

education: Princeton University (1977), University of Washington (1972), University of California, San Francisco

awards: National Medal of Technology and Innovation

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Arthur D. Levinson is a molecular biologist and entrepreneur, best known for developing therapeutics for various forms of cancer. After completing his doctorate from the 'Princeton University,' Levinson worked closely with Nobel recipients, J. Michael Bishop and Harold Varmus, to develop cancer-treating drugs. He later joined 'Genentech’ where his cancer-research underwent major developments. Levinson eventually became CEO of 'Genentech' and led the company to become one of the leaders in selected pharmaceutical markets. The 'Biotech Hall of Fame' inductee has authored and co-authored over 80 scientific articles and is an honorary inventor on 11 United States patents. He stepped down as CEO of 'Genentech' in 2009 and now serves on the board of directors of 'Apple, Inc.' He has served on the boards of several science and technology companies, and continues to serve several others. He is credited for developing the breast cancer drug 'Herceptin.'

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Childhood & Early Life
  • From 1977 to 1980, Levinson served at the 'Microbiology Department' of the 'University of California' where he joined the Nobel laureates, J. Michael Bishop and Harold Varmus, as a postdoc to work on developing antibodies for treating cancer.
  • Levinson's early cancer-research resulted in the development of a monoclonal antibody called ‘trastuzumab,’ one of the first targeted therapeutics for cancer treatment. He also developed the anti- monoclonal antibody, ‘rituximab,’ that treats hematologic cancers and a kind of epidermal growth factor receptor.
  • Levinson has also contributed to the development of targeted therapeutics, ‘bevacizumab,’ and ‘ranibizumab,’ which are widely used for treating several cancer-causing viruses to brain, colon, kidney, and lungs. He has also made contributions to age-related macular deterioration. He pioneered the development of the drug 'Herceptin' to treat breast cancer.
  • In 1980, Herbert W. Boyer, co-founder of the world's first biotech company, 'Genentech,' recruited Levinson as a research scientist. He planned to acquire unique laboratory experiences at 'Genentech' and return to academia after that.
  • Under Levinson's leadership, 'Genentech' started investigating various cancer research projects to rate them on the basis of scientific viability, medical need, market potential, and manufacturing economy. He prioritized the development of new treatments for immunology, cancer, and vascular biology.
  • At 'Genentech,' Levinson became 'Vice President of Research Technology' in 1989, 'Vice President of Research' in 1990, 'Senior Vice President of Research' in 1992, and finally, the 'Senior Vice President of Research and Development' in 1993.
  • In 1995, 'Genentech' made Levinson its new 'Chief Executive Officer'; he became the chairman in 1999. The 'Irvington Institute' and the 'National Breast Cancer Coalition' honored Levinson with corporate leadership awards in 1999.
  • At the 2003 'Biotech Meeting of CEOs,' Levinson was initiated into the 'Biotech Hall of Fame,' and in the next two years (2004 and 2005), 'BusinessWeek' named him one of the 'Best Managers of the Year.' The 'Institutional Investor' named him 'America's Best CEO' in the biotech category for four consecutive years.
  • From 2004 to 2009, Levinson served on the board of directors of 'Google.' In 2006, 'Princeton University' awarded him with the 'James Madison Medal' and Barron's magazine recognized him as one of 'The World's Most Respected CEOs' (in 2009 as well). The 'Best Practice Institute' listed Levinson in '25 Top CEOs.'
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  • Levinson serves on the 'Board of Scientific Consultants' of the 'Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center,' non-executive 'Chairman of the Board' of 'Amyris, Inc.,' the 'Industrial Advisory Board' of the 'California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences' (QB3), the 'Advisory Council' for the 'Princeton University' 'Department of Molecular Biology,' the 'Advisory Council' for the 'Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics,' and is on the board of director of 'NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.'
  • He previously served on the board of directors of 'Biotechnology Industry Organization' (1995-2000), 'Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America' (1997-2001), 'Executive Council' member at 'Technology Network' (1997-January 2010), and 'Innovation Advisory Board of U.S Commerce Department' (2011-December 2012).
  • In 2008, Levinson earned an honorary fellowship at the 'American Academy of Arts and Sciences.' In 2009, he joined the board of directors at 'Broad Institute of MIT' and 'Harvard,' Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • In 2010, the 'Biotechnology Industry Organization' (BIO) and the 'Chemical Heritage Foundation' honored Levinson with the 'Biotechnology Heritage Award' and he received the 'Director's Award' from the 'San Francisco Exploratorium.'
  • In 2011, Levinson received the 'American Association for Cancer Research Margaret Foti Award' for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research.'
  • In 2011, 'Apple, Inc.' named Levinson as its 'Non-Executive Chairman of the Board' while on November 15, he became the chairman of the board replacing Steve Jobs.
  • In 2012, 'Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,' New York, awarded the 'Double Helix Medal' to Levinson.
  • On September 18, 2013, Levinson became the CEO of 'Calico,' a 'Google'-funded company focussed on health and well-being.
  • In 2014, Levinson received the highest honor for a 'University of Washington' graduate, the 'Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award.' On October 3, 2014, President Obama presented the 'National Medal of Technology and Innovation' to Levinson, the highest US honor in the field of science and technology.
  • In April 2016, the 'University of California,' San Francisco, honored Levinson's contributions to the scientific community with the 'Distinguished Alumnus Award.'
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Family & Personal Life
  • Levinson married Rita May Liff on December 17, 1978, and together they have a son and a daughter.

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