Leonard Levin, MD, PhD

Leonard Levin, MD, PhD
Contact Information
Email address: 
leonard.levin [at] mcgill.ca
Hospital title: 
Professor in the Departments of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences and Neurology & Neurosurgery
Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology

Dr. Leonard Levin is a tenured professor in the Departments of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences and Neurology & Neurosurgery at McGill University, and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. He is a physician-scientist at the Neuro, where he carries out research related to optic nerve diseases and related disorders.

Dr. Levin received a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in Applied Mathematics at Harvard, where he did an honors thesis designing a language for computer-assisted music composition. He received his MD in the Harvard/MIT joint program in Health Science and Technology and a PhD in neurobiology, focusing on research relevant to multiple sclerosis. He then pursued an ophthalmology residency and neuro-ophthalmology fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

His research program focuses on mechanisms of retinal ganglion cell death at the molecular, tissue culture, and whole animal level. This includes the role axonal damage plays in inducing loss of retinal ganglion cells and how axons themselves undergo injury, an area common to ophthalmology and neurology, and one directly tied to optic nerve diseases. He uses advanced imaging techniques to study signaling of cell death in the retina and how this can help in the development of new drugs for optic nerve and retinal disease, including novel drugs that his laboratory has developed. Dr. Levin is particularly interested in the challenges associated with successfully translating basic science research into clinically effective therapies, and has been involved with the design and assessment of clinical trials to study neuroprotective therapies in glaucoma and other optic neuropathies. His funding has been from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the United States National Institutes of Health, the Glaucoma Foundation, the Glaucoma Research Foundation, and several others.

Dr. Levin’s research has resulted in more than 170 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and book chapters, and 4 issued patents, all related to eye disease. He has edited five textbooks in ophthalmology or neuro-ophthalmology, including Neuro-Ophthalmology: The Practical Guide, Ocular Disease: Mechanisms and Management, and the 11th edition of Adler’s Physiology of the Eye. He has written chapters or edited sections of many of the major textbooks in ophthalmology. He was previously chair of the Diseases and Pathophysiology of the Visual System study section at the United States National Institutes of Health, past chair of the Association of Canadian University Professors of Ophthalmology, and currently chairs the Executive Scientific Oversight Committee for the Audacious Goals Initiative at the USA National Eye Institute, which has the major goal to restore sight to those with irreversible blindness.

Selected publications: 

Coussa RG, Merat P, Levin LA. Propagation and selectivity of axonal loss in Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. Sci Rep, in press.

Rath EZ, Hazan Z, Adamsky K, Segal ZI, Levin LA. Randomized controlled Phase 2a study of RPh201 in previous nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy. J Neuro-Ophthalmol, in press.

Levin LA. Neuroprotection in neuro-ophthalmology. Asia-Pacific J Ophthalmology, 7:246-250, 2018.

Chan W, Almasieh M, Catrinescu M, Levin LA. Cobalamin-dependent superoxide scavenging in neuronal cells is a potential mechanism for vitamin B12-deprivation optic neuropathy. Am J Pathol, 188:160-172, 2018.

Lawlor M, Danesh-Meyer H, Levin LA, Davagnanam I, De Vita E, Plant GT. Glaucoma and the brain: Trans-synaptic degeneration, structural change and implications for neuroprotection. Surv Ophthalmol, 63:296-306, 2018.

Janus DA, Lieven CJ, Crowe ME, Levin LA. Polyester-based microdisc systems for sustained release of neuroprotective phosphine-borane complexes. Pharm Dev Technol, 9:1-8, 2017.

Levin LA, Behar-Cohen F. The Academic-Industrial Complexity: Failure to Launch. Trends Pharmacol Sci, 38:1052-1060, 2017.

Levin LA, Miller JW, Zack DJ, Friedlander M, Smith LEH. Early clinical development of cell replacement therapy: Considerations for the National Eye Institute Audacious Goals Initiative. Ophthalmology, 124:926-934, 2017.

Almasieh M, Catrinescu M-M, Binan L, Costantino S, Levin LA. Axonal degeneration in retinal ganglion cells is associated with a membrane polarity-sensitive redox process. J Neurosci, 37:3824-3839, 2017.

De Moraes CG, Liebmann JM, Levin LA. Detection and measurement of clinically meaningful visual field progression in clinical trials for glaucoma. Prog Retin Eye Res, 56:107-147, 2017.

Levin LA, Crowe ME, Quigley HA. Neuroprotection for glaucoma: Requirements for clinical translation. Exp Eye Res, 157:34-37, 2017.

Levin LA. Translational pharmacology in glaucoma neuroprotection. Handbook Exp Pharmacol, 242:209-230, 2017.

Almasieh M, Levin LA. Neuroprotection in glaucoma: Animal models and clinical trials. Annu Rev Vision Sci, 3:91-120, 2017.

Niemuth NJ, Thompson AF, Crowe ME, Lieven CJ, Levin LA. Intracellular disulfide reduction by phosphine-borane complexes: Mechanism of action for neuroprotection. Neurochem Int, 99:24-32, 2016.

The Neuro logo McGill logoMcGill University Health Centre logoKillam Laureates


The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



Facebook instagram x, formerly known as twitter linkedIn youtube

Back to top