Former med school associate dean Levey was an advocate for women faculty

Barbara Levey, a former associate dean and director of admissions and assistant dean for curriculum at the School of Medicine, who is remembered for helping to increase female medical student admissions and serving as a role model for female medical faculty, died Oct. 29, 2019, at 84.

Barbara Ann Cohen, born March 7, 1935 in Newburgh, N.Y., graduated from Cornell University in 1957 and in 1961 she earned an M.D. from the State University of New York at Syracuse — the only woman in her graduating class of 120. She joined Pitt, 1979-91, as a professor of pharmacology and of medicine, serving on Association of American Medical Colleges committees supporting women in medicine.

Alan Robinson, a former endocrinology Pitt faculty member and vice chair of medicine, recalled Levey as “a real proponent of equality of admissions for women. That was the stand-out achievement of her time there at Pittsburgh.”

For School of Pharmacy Dean Patricia Kroboth — a clinical pharmacist — Levey’s work as a clinical pharmacologist was most impressive. Kroboth recalls her division and Levey’s department cooperating in new ways: “We established a wonderful relationship where pharmacy students and medical students could see patients with interesting pharmacological challenges.” The pairing also created the first grand rounds for pharmacy and medical students to examine medically complicated cases related to medications.

“I remember Barbara’s enthusiasm for the interaction and for educating students.” She also recalled Barbara and her husband, Gerald Levey, who was chair of the department of medicine at the Pitt School of Medicine from 1979-1991, as “gracious hosts who often had groups of people to dinner at their home. It was a wonderful time.”

Mary Korytkowski, a medicine faculty member who joined Pitt in 1989, recalls the Leveys as both very welcoming: “As a junior faculty member, I felt very supported by her husband, but I held her in particularly high regard. She was certainly a role model for women who were junior faculty at the time. I remember talking about having a family, because my children were very young when I came here. … She was very supportive of having a family and a career together.”

Patricia Bononi, an endocrinologist with Partners in Nephrology and Endocrinology who graduated from the School of Medicine in 1985, said: “She was a tremendous role model for me, especially during medical school. I remember someone telling us the first day of medical school that our class was 30 percent female — the highest percentage of enrolled women at the time. I am certain that was entirely due to her efforts.”

Barbara Levey left Pitt with her husband in 1991 and in 1994 joined the UCLA faculty as assistant vice chancellor for biomedical affairs and adjunct professor of medicine and of molecular and medical pharmacology. There, she received National Institutes of Health grants to support training and research in clinical pharmacology — in particular, patient-oriented research training that focused on medical issues affecting minority populations. She was president of the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and on numerous academic committees to support clinical pharmacology.

Barbara Levey is survived by her husband of 58 years, son John Levey and daughter in-law Michele Kersman; daughter, Robin (Levey) Burkhardt; three grandchildren, Lia, Jaden and Simon Burkhardt; sister-in-law Beverly Cohen; brother and sister-in-law Robert and Paula Westerman; four nephews, a niece, and 10 grandnieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Barbara A. Levey, M.D., and Gerald S. Levey, M.D., Scholarship at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Checks to the UCLA Foundation, with Levey Scholarship in the memo, may be sent c/o Emily McLaughlin, UCLA Health Sciences Development, 10889 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90024,, 310-794-4763.

— Marty Levine