Dr. Stuart Levin: Esteemed RUSH Leader and Mentor

Renowned diagnostician died Monday at age 88
Stuart Levin, MD

Stuart Levin, MD, held many titles throughout his illustrious career at RUSH that spanned nearly five decades, but what he’s most remembered for is his leadership, his knowledge, his kindness, his compassion and his extraordinary ability to teach medical students and colleagues how to genuinely treat and care for people.

The nationally renowned physician and teacher died peacefully following an illness on Monday at RUSH University Medical Center. He was 88.

A diagnostic expert

Levin was widely recognized as the best diagnostician in Chicago — routinely asked to weigh in on medical cases that could not be solved at other institutions in the city, across the state and throughout the country.

“It was and remains very rare that someone becomes well known for being able to make a diagnosis better than almost anyone else in the country by only using a history, physical examination, and the labs that are equally available to all the doctors that had previously seen the patient,” said Dr. Larry Goodman, interim president of RUSH University and former CEO of RUSH. “He was certainly the best diagnostician that I ever knew, and that was only one element of his expertise.”

The RUSH standard

Levin was a mentor in every sense of the word. His influence as a clinician, educator and leader carried over to his students and fellow colleagues, many of whom became leaders themselves at RUSH. His unwavering commitment to excellence and compassionate care set the standard at the medical center.

“During many of RUSH’s formative years, Dr. Levin played a major role in focusing the institution on clinical excellence, the importance of diversity, and the critical role nurses play at RUSH,” Goodman said. “His lectures and review articles included unique and incredibly useful ways to approach cases that all of his trainees use to this day.”

As head of the largest department at RUSH — Internal Medicine — Levin created a warm and welcoming department, regularly opening his home to colleagues, students and house officers for cookouts or Passover dinner. “RUSH was part of his family and that was how he treated us,” Goodman said.

The legacy Levin built at RUSH was honored in 2008 when grateful patients and RUSH University leadership established the Stuart Levin, MD, Professorship, which provides financial support for medical students at RUSH University. Levin also consistently supported the fund since it was established. As one of three endowed positions at RUSH that supports scholarship, the fund continues to enhance the student experience at RUSH today. The professorship is currently held by RUSH President and CEO Dr. Omar Lateef.

An advocate for equity

Levin was also a humanitarian who cared deeply about access to care for the underserved, particularly on the West Side where he lived and worked for the duration of his career. Along with being an advocate for equity in healthcare, he was a vocal champion of the rights of people with HIV and AIDS to get care regardless of their ability to pay.

He was the driving force behind the creation of the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, a partnership between Cook County and RUSH. The center is one of the nation's leading treatment centers for people living with HIV/AIDS.

“I will always remember Dr. Levin for his warmth, humor, kindness and words of encouragement, even during difficult times,” said Dr. David Ansell, senior vice president of community health equity at RUSH, who credits Dr. Levin with providing mentorship and guidance at multiple moments on his own path to becoming a clinician and medical leader. “As one of the founding faculty at RUSH Medical College, he was highly influential in making RUSH the national paragon of clinical quality.”

Levin was appointed the first-ever director of the Section of Infectious Diseases in 1969 and later chaired the Department of Internal Medicine from 1991 until his retirement in 2012. He was appointed the first James R. Lowenstein Professor of Medicine in 1986 and named to the Ralph C. Brown Chair of Internal Medicine in 1995. He was also vice dean of RUSH Medical College and an associate vice president for medical affairs.

In 2016, Levin received the Trustee Medal, RUSH’s highest honor, for his longtime support of RUSH’s mission and dedication to Chicago and beyond. He was also a member of both the Anchor Cross Society and Benjamin Rush Society, which celebrate donors who provide significant support year after year to RUSH.

“As we remember and celebrate the life and work of Dr. Stuart Levin, we honor his memory by continuing to uphold the RUSH I CARE values of innovation, collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence, all of which he exemplified,” Lateef said.

“Dr. Levin was my professional father,” said Richard Abrams, MD, associate dean of the Learning Environment. “When I think about his influence, his kindness and knowledge, I hope that everyone has a Dr. Levin in their lives — someone who teaches you how to genuinely treat and care for people.”

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