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Robert L. Levy Professorship in Cardiology

School of Medicine

Established in 1975 by the estate of Robert L. Levy

The Robert L. Levy Professorship is the original endowed professorship in Cardiology.  It was established in 1975 thanks to a bequest gift from the estate of DR. ROBERT L. LEVY, a member of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Class of 1913.  Dr. Levy served his residency at Hopkins and went on to become one of the most prominent cardiologists in New York City, serving as the director of cardiology at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital from 1925 to 1954 and as a clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University. He also served twice as the president of the New York Academy of Medicine and as president of the New York Heart Association. A captain in the Medical Corps during World War I, he toured Army camps in France at the time of an influenza epidemic. In World War II, he was a consultant in cardiology to the Secretary of War. He received the Selective Service Medal for his review and study of 1,000 registrants rejected for military service because of cardiovascular conditions.

Held by Brian O'Rourke

BRIAN O’ROURKE, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine at the Heart and Vascular Institute. He uses an integrative approach to study the biophysics, energetics and physiology of cardiac cells in normal and diseased states.

A consistent theme of his work has been that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in the mechanisms of arrhythmogenesis, contractile impairment and energetic abnormalities during the progression of heart failure and sudden cardiac death.  Applying a systems biology approach, employing cardiac cell physiology, “omics”, and computational biology, his group has revealed the interplay between ion gradients, redox/ROS balance and energy supply, which, when disrupted, can trigger nonlinear mitochondrial responses that scale to cause global cardiac dysfunction and fatal arrhythmias. Development of therapies that improve the bioenergetic and redox functions of mitochondria is an area of increasing interest in the cardiovascular field, and his group has been a key contributor advancing these ideas.

Dr. O’Rourke holds a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University and a PhD in physiology from Thomas Jefferson University. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Eduardo Marbán in the Cardiology Division at Johns Hopkins, he joined the faculty in 1993 and was promoted to Professor in 2003. He has published more than 200 papers that have been cited a total of 23,000 times. He currently serves as Associate Editor of Journal of Clinical Investigation, having previously held the same position at Circulation Research and Cardiovascular Research. He also has served for more than a decade on NIH study sections, chaired the Electrical Signaling, Transport, and Arrhythmias section of the NHLBI, and currently serves as the Vice Chair of Basic and Translational Research for the Department of Medicine.