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Editorial  |   December 2004
Dr Levine's Legacy Lives On: A Tribute to My Mentor, A Humble but Effective Giant
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Medical Education / Neuromusculoskeletal Disorders / Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment / Pain Management/Palliative Care / Being a DO / Low Back Pain / OMT in the Laboratory
Editorial   |   December 2004
Dr Levine's Legacy Lives On: A Tribute to My Mentor, A Humble but Effective Giant
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, December 2004, Vol. 104, 519-520. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2004.104.12.519
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, December 2004, Vol. 104, 519-520. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2004.104.12.519
On August 6, Howard M. Levine, DO, died. By coincidence, his death occurred on the 176th anniversary of the birth of Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO. Dr Levine was 74 years old. 
Soon after I finished my residency at Detroit Osteopathic Hospital, I had the opportunity to meet Dr Levine. He was a primary care physician from northern New Jersey, and he seemed to be very interested in research. He asked questions about how research could be pursued to advance the science, both basic and clinical, of osteopathic medicine. 
Dr Levine was unique, truly the first osteopathic physician I had met who was driven to find out more, through research, about the profession that I had been involved in for only a short time. He asked me if I would like to serve on the AOA Bureau of Research, now the AOA Council on Research, and I replied, “Yes.” That began my first meaningful connection to the AOA. 
At the AOA House of Delegates' 2001 meeting, 2001–2002 AOA President James E. Zini, DO (left), and AOA Trustee Joel B. Cooperman, DO, wish Howard M. Levine, DO, good luck just before Dr Levine delivered the AOA's Andrew Taylor Still Memorial Address. This was Dr Levine's last appearance at the AOA House. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)
At the AOA House of Delegates' 2001 meeting, 2001–2002 AOA President James E. Zini, DO (left), and AOA Trustee Joel B. Cooperman, DO, wish Howard M. Levine, DO, good luck just before Dr Levine delivered the AOA's Andrew Taylor Still Memorial Address. This was Dr Levine's last appearance at the AOA House. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)
Shortly thereafter, I met Felix J. Rodgers, DO, and Michael M. Patterson, PhD, who today are the associate editors of JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. We all worked together, along with others, on this rather new endeavor—the AOA Bureau of Research. 
Dr Levine chaired this bureau, and each meeting was an educational experience for me. He, more than anyone else, taught me osteopathic medicine. He tied in for me what was missing about the connections between mind, body, and spirit as embraced by our profession. 
Dr Levine constantly challenged my way of thinking in an unbelievably insightful and scholarly fashion. Although Dr Levine never had any formal training in research, he was truly an original thinker and osteopathic medical researcher. 
Dr Levine constantly sought resources to fund research by our profession. He led the 10-year assessment that created the Osteopathic Research and Development Fund (ORDF). The ORDF was the first large funding effort for research by our profession, and it led to several outstanding research studies. One notable study that explored the effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment on low back pain was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.1 
The key word that Dr Levine used was distinctiveness. He constantly wanted to explore what matters most to osteopathic physicians: “What makes DOs unique, perhaps even very special?” He understood that many different things make us unique as physicians compared with our allopathic medical counterparts. 
But Dr Levine always emphasized the importance of what he insisted the profession call osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). He believed that OMT is the key to osteopathic principles and practice, and he constantly asked individuals to explore or research OMT and its benefits in the treatment of patients and management of their symptoms. 
From almost the moment I met him, Dr Levine had the idea to put all of what we knew about osteopathic medicine into a distinctive textbook for the profession. While he chaired the AOA Bureau of Research, he pursued the publication of what has become the premier textbook in osteopathic medicine—Foundations for Osteopathic Medicine. The second edition of this textbook was published in 2003.2 
Before I met him, Dr Levine played an extremely important role in establishing a college of osteopathic medicine in the state of New Jersey. That never surprised me because Dr Levine never took “No” for an answer. I am sure that he worked without rest to have Gov Brendan Byrne sign legislation to establish the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–School of Osteopathic Medicine (UMDNJ-SOM) in Stratford. 
On the last morning of the AOA House of Delegates' 1998 meeting, then–AOA President Ronald A. Esper, DO (left), presents his predecessor, Howard M. Levine, DO, with an AOA past presidents' ring. (Photo from the AOA photo archive)
On the last morning of the AOA House of Delegates' 1998 meeting, then–AOA President Ronald A. Esper, DO (left), presents his predecessor, Howard M. Levine, DO, with an AOA past presidents' ring. (Photo from the AOA photo archive)
Dr Levine worked tirelessly during his 1997–1998 AOA presidency as well. Again, he emphasized the profession's distinctiveness, and he was driven to unite the profession. His efforts eventually led to the AOA Campaign for Osteopathic Unity, an effort that is ongoing and has been highly successful. 
I know that Drs Rodgers and Patterson feel the same way I do. Dr Levine was our mentor and probably the principal reason why I am the AOA's editor in chief and they are the associate editors of the JAOA. 
The JAOA is a better journal now than it was in the past, thanks in large part to Dr Levine. It is much more osteopathic, in a meaningful way. Research articles on osteopathic medicine are more abundant, and the distinctiveness of our profession displays itself on the pages of this journal today more than ever before. If one were to trace the origin of the most of the research that has been published in the JAOA during the past several years, one would find Dr Levine's fingerprints everywhere. 
Dr Levine's osteopathic medical legacy lives on. The family tradition remains strong. Two of his sons are osteopathic physicians, and when one looks at his extended family, there are approximately 20 DOs. One grandchild is a fourth-year student at UMDNJ-SOM, the osteopathic medical college Dr Levine helped found. We are now looking at four generations of osteopathic physicians. 
Dr Levine has made a huge impact on the osteopathic medical profession in a most scholarly way. His originality of thought, hard work, and pursuit of distinctiveness have driven this profession farther than I believe it realizes. Dr Levine believed, as I do, that our profession's future centers on its distinctiveness in healthcare and that our distinctiveness needs to be demonstrated through research. 
With research, our profession will grow ever stronger, reach even farther, and become even more valuable to society. We are indebted to Dr Levine for showing us the way. 
Barbara Ross-Lee, DO (left), talks with Howard M. Levine, DO, during the AOA's 1997 leadership conference on osteopathic medical education. Looking on is Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO. Dr Ross-Lee is currently the dean of the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, and Dr Tooke-Rawlins is the dean and executive vice president of the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)
Barbara Ross-Lee, DO (left), talks with Howard M. Levine, DO, during the AOA's 1997 leadership conference on osteopathic medical education. Looking on is Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO. Dr Ross-Lee is currently the dean of the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, and Dr Tooke-Rawlins is the dean and executive vice president of the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)
Andersson GBJ, Lucente T, Davis AM, Kappler RE, Lipton JA, Leurgans S. A comparison of osteopathic spinal manipulation with standard care for patients with low back pain. N Engl J Med. 1999;341:1426-1431.
Ward RC, ed. Foundations for Osteopathic Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2003.
At the AOA House of Delegates' 2001 meeting, 2001–2002 AOA President James E. Zini, DO (left), and AOA Trustee Joel B. Cooperman, DO, wish Howard M. Levine, DO, good luck just before Dr Levine delivered the AOA's Andrew Taylor Still Memorial Address. This was Dr Levine's last appearance at the AOA House. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)
At the AOA House of Delegates' 2001 meeting, 2001–2002 AOA President James E. Zini, DO (left), and AOA Trustee Joel B. Cooperman, DO, wish Howard M. Levine, DO, good luck just before Dr Levine delivered the AOA's Andrew Taylor Still Memorial Address. This was Dr Levine's last appearance at the AOA House. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)
On the last morning of the AOA House of Delegates' 1998 meeting, then–AOA President Ronald A. Esper, DO (left), presents his predecessor, Howard M. Levine, DO, with an AOA past presidents' ring. (Photo from the AOA photo archive)
On the last morning of the AOA House of Delegates' 1998 meeting, then–AOA President Ronald A. Esper, DO (left), presents his predecessor, Howard M. Levine, DO, with an AOA past presidents' ring. (Photo from the AOA photo archive)
Barbara Ross-Lee, DO (left), talks with Howard M. Levine, DO, during the AOA's 1997 leadership conference on osteopathic medical education. Looking on is Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO. Dr Ross-Lee is currently the dean of the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, and Dr Tooke-Rawlins is the dean and executive vice president of the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)
Barbara Ross-Lee, DO (left), talks with Howard M. Levine, DO, during the AOA's 1997 leadership conference on osteopathic medical education. Looking on is Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO. Dr Ross-Lee is currently the dean of the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, and Dr Tooke-Rawlins is the dean and executive vice president of the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)