Leonard A. Levin, MD, PhD

Contact Information

Email: leonard.levin [at] mcgill.ca
Tel.: 514-843-1544
Publications: PubMed
Academic Affiliations: Ophthalmology, Neurology and Neurosurgery
Clinical Interests: Optic neuropathies
Research Groups: Neurodegenerative Diseases


Dr. Leonard Levin is a tenured professor in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. He is a physician-scientist at the Neuro, where he does 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 did his MD in the Harvard/MIT joint program in Health Science and Technology, with 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. He is particularly interested in using advanced imaging techniques to study signaling of cell death in the retina and the development of new drugs for optic nerve and retinal disease. This and related research has resulted in more than 160 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and book chapters, 4 issued patents, and his editing of five textbooks in the visual sciences or ophthalmology, including Ocular Disease: Mechanisms and Management, and the recent 11th edition of Adler’s Physiology of the Eye. He is past chair of the Diseases and Pathophysiology of the Visual System study section at the United States National Institutes of Health and has been an ad hoc reviewer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and funding bodies in Britain, Hong Kong, Israel, Australia, and elsewhere.

Dr. Levin is also 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 various optic neuropathies.

Selected Publications

Almasieh M, Catrinescu MM, Binan L, Costantino S, Levin LA. Axonal Degeneration in Retinal Ganglion Cells is Associated with a Membrane
Polarity-Sensitive Redox Process. J Neurosci. 2017 Mar 8. pii: 3882-16. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3882-16.2017. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28275163.

Levin LA, Crowe ME, Quigley HA; Lasker/IRRF Initiative on Astrocytes and Glaucomatous Neurodegeneration Participants.. Neuroprotection for glaucoma: Requirements for clinical translation. Exp Eye Res. 2016 Dec 9. pii: S0014-4835(16)30530-9. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2016.12.005. [Epub ahead of print]
PubMed PMID: 27955999.

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. 2017 Jan;56:107-147. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2016.10.001. Review.
PubMed PMID: 27773767; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5313392.

Levin LA. Translational Pharmacology in Glaucoma Neuroprotection. Handb ExpPharmacol. 2016 Oct 18. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27752844.

Niemuth NJ, Thompson AF, Crowe ME, Lieven CJ, Levin LA. Intracellulardisulfide reduction by phosphine-borane complexes: Mechanism of action for neuroprotection. Neurochem Int. 2016 Oct;99:24-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2016.05.014. PubMed PMID: 27264910; PubMed Central PMCID:
PMC5028261.

Thompson AF, Crowe ME, Lieven CJ, Levin LA. Induction of Neuronal Morphology in the 661W Cone Photoreceptor Cell Line with Staurosporine. PLoS One. 2015 Dec 18;10(12):e0145270. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145270. PubMed PMID: 26684837; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4684327.

Danesh-Meyer HV, Levin LA. Glaucoma as a neurodegenerative disease. J Neuroophthalmol. 2015 Sep;35 Suppl 1:S22-8. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000000293.
Review. PubMed PMID: 26274833.

Crowe ME, Lieven CJ, Thompson AF, Sheibani N, Levin LA. Borane-protected phosphines are redox-active radioprotective agents for endothelial cells. Redox Biol. 2015 Dec;6:73-9. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2015.06.015. PubMed PMID: 26188467; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4513185.

Levin LA. Superoxide generation explains common features of optic neuropathies associated with cecocentral scotomas. J Neuroophthalmol. 2015 Jun;35(2):152-60. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000000250. PubMed PMID: 25985432; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4581581.

The Montreal Neurological Institute & Hospital is a McGill University research and teaching institute; delivering the highest quality of care to patients, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. The MNI is proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.