Biography

Mike Levine is an American developmental biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, notable for co-discovering the Homeobox and for discovering the organization of the regulatory regions of developmental genes.

Levine studied biology as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley under Allan Wilson and graduating in 1976. He went on to graduate studies at Yale, studying with Alan Garen and receiving a PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Levine has been a professor at UC Berkeley since leaving UCSD in 1996. Levine was a post-doc with Walter Gehring in Switzerland, where he co-discovered the Homeobox with Ernst Hafen and fellow post-doc William McGinnis. Levine briefly returned to UC Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow with Gerry Rubin. He then joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he "led the discovery of the modular organization of the regulatory regions of developmental genes." After isolating the even-skipped (eve) gene, Levine's team determined that each of the seven stripes was produced by separate enhancers. With further study they discovered that both a set of activators and a set of repressors worked together to shape the expression of eve in the second stripe, and determined that the repressors shut down only their binding enhancers, leaving other enhancers free of repression.

After earning tenure in only four years at Columbia, Levine moved to UCSD in 1991, where he added the sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis, to his repertoire. Although much of Levine's work, including his homeobox studies, has been done in Drosophila Levine's team is also prominent in work with the sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis, an invertebrate that facilitates study of development.

Levine’s award include the Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Searle Scholars Research Fellowship, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the NAS Award in Molecular Biology and the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale Alumni Association. He was also elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in "Cellular and Developmental Biology" section.