Last month the Autophagy community assembled virtually to share their latest discoveries and insights, with enthusiasm and inspiration. But missing from their ranks was a key leader, mentor and friend-- Beth Levine-- who tragically passed away from metastatic breast cancer on June 15, 2020.
Her absence was felt by the entire community, as a driver of not only scientific advances, but also personal connections. Beth was a champion of community, and her community rallied around her memory on the first day of the meeting with a very special tribute celebrating Beth's life.
Here we'd like to share this tribute, and the thoughts from her loved ones and colleagues that so beautifully reflect Beth's importance to this field, and those within it. If you had a connection to Beth please share this and let us know how she impacted your life and career.
During the tribute, meeting attendees shared their thoughts and memories in the group chat, reflecting on her scientific prowess, but also her central role in the autophagy community as a leader, mentor, and friend. Here are their comments:
"Even as she was suffering from her disease, her thoughts were with her own people (in her lab), and the legacy of our field,... that stands as testimony to the quality of Beth as a scientist and as a person."
-Herbert (Skip) W. Virgin
"I had the pleasure of first hearing Beth speak at a conference on ER-Stress and Autophagy in Bruges in January 2017. She gave both a fantastic scientific talk and an inspiring career seminar to graduate students. I remember her warmth and encouragement, which I particularly appreciated at that stage in my PhD. Thank you for organizing this mini-symposium." -Melissa Bedard
"Beth was my grantee from 2008 to 2016. It was always exciting to discuss with her progress in autophagy research. In 2009 I invited her to participate in the first workshop on “Autophagy in Cancer” organized by the Division of Cancer Biology, NCI....
"My PhD study was inspired by Prof. Levine's research. When I was an undergraduate student, BECN1 and the functions in cancer was the topic that I learnt from Prof. Levine. I am thinking whether the gene signature of autophagy related genes contribute to cancer prognosis. Great honor to Prof. Levine." -Chit Tam
"Her death is tremendous loss for science."
Beth Levine in a nutshell:
"Prominent woman scientist leader in the field of autophagy, groundbreaking scientific discoveries, dedicated mentor, master organizer, beloved colleague and friend."
-Ana Maria Cuervo
"I am a former post-doc in Beth Levine´s lab. I would like to highlight her kind support for people in her lab both professionally and personally. As a scientist she always supported and encouraged me to pursue my ideas. As a mother in science I had to deal with particular challenges specially during my last year in her lab and she was always the person to listen and willing to help in any possible way. I am honored to be her mentee, she is really a role model for me and I miss her greatly."
-Silvia Vega Rubinde Celis
*This picture was taken at my farewell party in 2017, featuring the special cake she arranged with a picture I took at the electron microscope for one of my papers.
"Beth was an amazing person, scientist and mentor. Working with her as a founder of Casma Therapeutics, Beth was a wonderful voice and took great time and care to push great science forward ensuring our team is doing all we can to bring forward great autophagy science in pursuit of therapeutics. I am very honored to have worked with Beth and she is greatly missed." -Matthew Broadus
"I am a former postdoc in Dr. Beth Levine lab who left the lab this August. My work in Levine lab has just been accepted by Autophagy Journal 10 days ago. I wish Beth would know it and I am sure she would be happy for me. Miss her so much!" -Yuting Zhao
"Congratulations, Yuting! I am sure Beth would be incredibly proud to know. " -Malene Hansen
the autophagy community strengthens its own identity and its own ideals. Doing so reminds everyone of their true mission of both advancing science and developing people. Legacy becomes the driving force to community. And I can assure that that is exactly what Beth would have wanted."
See Milton Packer's Reflections on the Tribute to Honor his late wife Beth Levine, here
Thank you all for sharing your hearts with us in this beautiful tribute to Beth Levine.
Shannon Weiman earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, specializing in microbiology and immunology. Prior to joining the Keystone Symposia team, she worked as a freelance writer for leaders in academic, industry and government research, including Stanford University’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative, the University of Colorado’s Biofrontiers Program, UCSF, the FDA and the American Society for Microbiology.