"It's been a fantastic run," Myron M. "Mike" Levine, MD, DTPH, said at his Entrepreneur of the Year presentation Oct. 1 before a packed auditorium at the University of Maryland BioPark.
Thirty-five years after founding the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), Dr. Levine is known worldwide for his role in developing vaccines to prevent the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, and Shigella dysentery. The CVD currently is working on an H1N1 vaccine, and evaluating one for malaria.
In his presentation "Vaccines, Global Health, and Social Equity," Dr. Levine recapped his years of research, which have taken him from advising prestigious universities, including Oxford and Harvard, to working in extremely remote locations in developing countries. Under his leadership, the CVD has successfully competed for grant and contract awards, averaging $65 million annually over the past five years.
Dr. Levine's work doesn't stop when these research grants are secured. He also plays an integral role in bringing the CVD's discoveries to market. "Typically, we meet with faculty in their labs, and then we do all the interaction with businesses, but in the case of Mike, he is very involved in the business end," said Jim Hughes, MBA, Vice President for Research and Development at UMB. "The research he’s doing is very important, it will save millions of lives, but convincing pharmaceutical companies to invest in vaccines is difficult. Mike has been personally and tirelessly involved in building those relationships."
One of the things Dr. Levine points out when garnering support is that the difference between industrial countries like the United States and developing ones like Mali, West Africa, where the CVD currently has a clinical study, is not as great as people may think. The Manhattan of 1900 had its tenements, unsanitary conditions, and high infant mortality, factors that are prevalent in Mali today, Levine said.
The Entrepreneur of the Year presentation was the first event in Founders Week, when the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus community gathers to honor accomplishments achieved throughout the year. Other events to come include a black-tie gala on October 19 and the Researcher of the Year lecture, which will be presented on October 20 by Alessio Fasano, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Celiac Research and the Mucosal Biology Research Center at the School of Medicine.