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Robert Levine, MD

Professor Emeritus of Medicine; Chair: Executive Committee, Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics; Director, Law, Policy and Ethics Core, Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, School of Public Health.

Contact Information

Robert Levine, MD

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Internal Medicine

    PO Box 208293, 238 Prospect St.

    New Haven, CT 06520-8293

    United States



Dr. Levine was an internationally recognized expert in medical ethics with concentration on the ethics of research involving human subjects. He authored the text, Ethics and Regulation of Clinical Research, 2 editions; was founding editor of IRB: A Review of Human Subjects Research; was co-founder of Yale's Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, and was co-author of the Belmont Report. He served many groups concerned with the development of policy in the field of research ethics including the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences as Chair of its steering committee for the revision of its International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects and the World Medical Association as Chair of its working group to propose a revision for its Declaration of Helsinki.

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We write today to share the sad news that Robert J. Levine, MD, professor emeritus of internal medicine, passed away peacefully on February 25, 2021. Bob was one of the founding members of the Yale New Haven Hospital Bioethics Committee, a remarkable mentor, and a prolific writer of over 300 articles. The obituary below was prepared by his family; Nancy Angoff, MD, MPH, Med; Jack Hughes, MD; and Patrick O’Connor MD, MPH, MACP.

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In Memoriam: Robert J. Levine, MD 1934- 2021

Robert J. Levine, MD, professor emeritus of internal medicine, passed away peacefully on February 25, 2021 at Whitney Center where he resided with his wife of 33 years, Jeralea Hesse. Bob joined the faculty at Yale School of Medicine in 1964. He served for 30 years as the chair of the Human Investigation Committee and was well known nationally and internationally for his pivotal work in human subjects research. His book, entitled Ethics and the Regulation of Clinical Research, published in 1981 with a second edition in 1986, became required reading for every Institutional Review Board member.

Bob first came to Yale 1962 as a chief medical resident at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven after completing his training at George Washington University, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and the National Heart Institute (now known as the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute). He returned to the National Heart Institute for a year and then came back to Yale as an instructor in medicine and pharmacology and clinical investigator at the VA in 1964. He was promoted to professor of medicine in 1973 and held several important leadership positions on our faculty including chief of the Section of Clinical Pharmacology (1966-1974), director of the Physician Associates Program (1973-1975) and director of Professional Responsibility course (1988-1991).

Bob was also one of the founding members of the Yale New Haven Hospital Bioethics Committee. With his colleague and friend, Margaret Farley, RSM, professor at Yale Divinity School, he led an interdisciplinary course in ethics at the medical school which evolved into the present Professional Responsibility course taken by all first-year students. He was a highly regarded mentor who worked closely with generations of medical students on their theses, including Associate Dean for Student Affairs Nancy Angoff. Many of his mentees have gone on to forge their own careers in bioethics and research ethics and credit him with inspiring and exciting them about these fields. His other leadership roles in this area included his roles as director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS - Law, Policy and Ethics Core; co-chair of the Executive Committee of the Yale University Interdisciplinary Bioethics Program; director of the Donaghue Initiative in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Ethics; and founding director of the Yale University Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics.

Bob was a sought-after consultant and lecturer throughout the world and a prolific writer who was able to capture difficult concepts with a remarkably fluid and clear writing style. He was author of over 300 articles and wrote many book chapters, reports and essays. Bob also won many awards including the Outstanding Achievement Medal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for his role in the groundbreaking Belmont Report. He was a devoted fellow at Saybrook College at Yale delighting in dinners and conversations with undergraduates. He was an avid squash player who could be seen with his racquet in the halls of SHM at a time when there were squash courts there. Jerry and Bob enjoyed traveling to interesting places in the world but also returning to their warm and receptive home. Bob was a loving husband, father, and grandfather who will be deeply missed. To leave an online condolence, please visit

Education & Training

  • Chief Medical Resident
    West Haven Veterans Administration Hospital (1963)
  • Clinical Associate
    National Heart Institute (1962)
  • Intern [House Officer] and junior Assistant Resident
    Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (1960)
  • MD
    George Washington University (1958)

Honors & Recognition

see CV

Professional Service

see CV

Departments & Organizations