PhD - University of California
Post-Doctoral Training - Louisiana State University Medical Center
Dr. Levy serves as Professor of Microbiology and Immunology where she studies pathogenic retroviruses, a group of RNA-containing viruses associated with degenerative, proliferative and malignant diseases in humans and other animals.
The research in her laboratory focuses on retroviruses that induce leukemia and lymphoma in susceptible animal hosts. Her long-term research objective has been to perform a molecular dissection of retrovirally-induced lymphoid malignancy to identify and understand the complex cascade of host-pathogen interactions involved in the malignant process.
- Molecular Virology
- Molecular Mechanisms of Retroviral Oncogenesis
The primary theme of Dr. Levy's research is retroviral pathogenesis and the induction of malignancy. The early stages of human cancer are very difficult to study, generally because it is difficult or impossible to predict the onset of the malignant process, or to monitor the transformed cells. Viruses that induce tumors in animal model systems offer a unique opportunity to study early events in the malignant process, often because a specific type of tumor is reliably produced. For example, certain retroviruses induce malignant tumors of lymphoid origin in the natural host, and provide excellent models to study the cascade of events in the malignant process. Dr. Levy's lab has utilized retroviruses to study the molecular pathogenesis of malignant change in three animal model systems: (1) infection of the domestic cat, a naturally outbreeding population, with feline leukemia virus (FeLV), (2) infection of the laboratory inbred mouse with murine leukemia virus (MuLV), and (3) the induction of immunodeficiency disease in the rhesus macaque following infection with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Their studies and others have shown that the retrovirally-mediated induction of lymphoid malignancy is a complex and multistep process involving prolonged interaction between the virus and the host. Their specific research objectives are to identify the cooperating events involved in the host-virus interaction, the mechanisms of their interaction, and their influence in the malignant process. A summary of their major findings and objectives follows:
- Their studies have linked a distinct set of genetic features of the virus and the host with the induction of particular types of malignancy. Studies are in progress to establish the functions and relationship of these genetic factors to the malignant process.
- They have examined immune interactions that occur during chronic retroviral infection, particularly in the context of the developing lymphoma, in order to understand how malignant tumors may be shielded from immune recognition and destruction. The results of these studies will be considered in the context of developing novel preventative or therapeutic strategies.
- Their studies have shown that lymphoma in the SIV-infected rhesus macaque recapitulates the primary pathobiological features of AIDS-associated lymphoma (AAL). Their objective is to utilize these findings to develop new therapeutic or preventative approaches to AAL.
Dr. Levy's publications on PubMed