McMaster breast cancer specialist appointed to the Order of Canada

Dr. Mark Levine was announced as a Member of the Order of Canada

By: Anne Snider | June 30, 2016 | Blog

A McMaster University professor and renowned breast cancer specialist has been appointed to the Order of Canada. Dr. Mark Levine was announced as a Member of the Order of Canada today by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. Levine is one of 113 Canadians who were appointed to one of Canada’s highest civilian honours.

He was cited for his contributions as an oncologist, researcher and clinician, and particularly for his development of a number of new treatments that have become the Canadian standard in clinical practice. “I am thrilled to receive this important honour. I have been very fortunate in my career. I was given so many opportunities at a young age, and I’ve had so much fun over the last 35 years,” said Levine.

He credits Hamilton and McMaster as contributing to his success, adding, “I was encouraged and given opportunities by the giants of innovation at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine – Jack Hirsh, David Sackett and Mike Gent. Coming to Hamilton and McMaster made a real difference for my career.” “Dr. Levine is an outstanding clinician, an innovative researcher and an exceptional educator. This honour is very appropriate,” added Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Levine earned his medical degree at McGill University in his native Montreal. He completed his residency in internal medicine at McMaster University before training in hematology and oncology at Duke University Medical Centre in the U.S. He returned to McMaster in 1981. Levine is a professor of oncology and holds the Buffett Taylor Chair in Breast Cancer Research. He has been chair of the Department of Oncology for the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster since 2007. He is also a medical oncologist at the Juravinski Cancer Centre of Hamilton Health Sciences, and he was CEO of the cancer centre between 1992 and 1999. He established the Escarpment Cancer Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in 2011.

He is renowned as a clinician researcher conducting studies that have impacted health care in Canada and beyond. In patients with early breast cancer, for example, he has shortened the length of chemotherapy after surgery; added a new chemotherapy drug, Epirubicin after surgery to improve survival; and pioneered work on shared decision making to enhance communication between oncologist and patient on treatment choices. He led a landmark trial that showed that patients with venous blood clots in the leg could be treated at home with low molecular weight heparin rather than be treated in hospital with blood thinners.

As well, for the past 30 years he has been the director of the Ontario Clinical Oncology Group (OCOG) which conducts cancer clinical trials. More than 12,000 patients have participated in these studies in a number of cancer types. Of particular note are studies that evaluated novel radiation regimens in early breast cancer and prostate cancer. He has more than 300 peer-reviewed journal publications.

The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. It recognizes people in all sectors of Canadian society for their varied contributions which have enriched the lives of others and made a difference to the country. Levine, with his wife Hinda and children Yonina and Oren, will attend an awards ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa at a later date.