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Mark James Levis, M.D., Ph.D.
Program Leader, Hematologic Malignancies and Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor of Oncology
Expertise: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), Hematology, Hematology/Oncology, Leukemia, Medical Oncology, Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) ...read more
Research Interests: Kinase inhibitors; Targeting the FLT3 signaling pathway as a treatment for acute leukemia.
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Mark J. Levis, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology, medicine and pharmacology in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, co-directs the Hematologic Malignancies and Bone Marrow Transplantation Program and directs the Adult Leukemia Service at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. In addition to his role within the Kimmel Cancer Center, he serves on the faculty for the Johns Hopkins Graduate Training Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, a Ph.D. program that prepares scientists to conduct laboratory research at the cellular and molecular level that is designed to have a direct impact on the understanding of human diseases. Dr. Levis is board certified in medical oncology.
Dr. Levis has expertise in acute and chronic lymphoblastic leukemia, acute and chronic myeloid leukemia, hematology and medical oncology, and myelodysplastic syndromes.
Dr. Levis received his medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where he also earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins, followed by fellowships in medical oncology.
Dr. Levis is a clinical scholar of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as well as a member of the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the European Hematology Association. He is an ad hoc member of the Oncology Drug Advisory Committee, as well as an ad hoc manuscript referee for peer-reviewed journals such as New England Journal of Medicine; Leukemia; Clinical Cancer Research; and The American Journal of Hematology.
Dr. Levis has earned numerous awards, such as the Daniel Nathans Research Award from Johns Hopkins University, the Osler Housestaff Teaching Award, the Director's Teaching Award in Clinical Science, and the Advanced Clinical Research Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Dr. Levis’ laboratory research focuses on the development of molecularly-targeted therapies for leukemia. He is actively involved in the pre-clinical and clinical development of small molecule inhibitors of protein kinases, including FLT3. The research involves studying the biochemical effects of these inhibitors on samples taken from leukemia patients, with the broad goal of identifying and validating novel molecular therapeutic targets in these hematopoietic malignancies. While Dr. Levis plays a key role in the pre-clinical development of these therapies, he is particularly interested in translating this research to the bedside of his patients by using correlative studies to incorporate these novel therapies into existing treatments. In addition to his work in both the clinic and the laboratory, Dr. Levis has also conducted talks, mentorship and teaching lectures, and published extensively in the top journals in his field, including Leukemia; Blood; and the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Program Leader, Hematologic Malignancies and Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Professor of Oncology
- Professor of Medicine
Centers & Institutes
- MD, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine (1994)
- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Internal Medicine (1997)
- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Medical Oncology (2002)
Research & Publications
Our broad research goals are to identify and validate novel molecular therapeutic targets in hematopoietic malignancies. We are interested in the identification and pre-clinical development of novel targeted therapies, and, in particular, the “translational” step of this research by using correlative studies to incorporate these novel therapies into existing treatments. Our research is of particular interest to those who wish to be involved in directly translating the results of laboratory bench work into meaningful benefits for patients.
Currently, we are actively involved in the pre-clinical and clinical development of small molecule kinase inhibitors targeting the FLT3 signaling pathway in acute myeloid leukemia. We are interested in 3 compounds in particular- AC220, a FLT3/KIT inhibitor; crenolanib,a selective FLT3 inhibitor with activity against resistant point mutations; and PLX3397, another inhibitor of KIT and FLT3.
The active projects in the lab include:
- Characterization of cytotoxic responses of different hematologic malignancies to FLT3 and KIT kinase inhibition;
- Examination of the interaction of bone marrow stroma and stroma-derived cytokines on the efficacy of these inhibitors;
- Examination of the differential effect of FLT3 inhibition versus combined FLT3/KIT inhibition on acute myeloid leukemia and bone marrow progenitor cells; and
- Correlative laboratory studies using blood and marrow samples from patients treated with FLT3 inhibitors, with the aim of developing predictive models for clinical response.
Dr. Levis laboratory research focuses on the development of molecularly targeted therapies for leukemia. Currently, he is actively involved in the pre-clinical and clinical development of small molecule inhibitors of protein kinase, including FLT3. The research involves studying the biochemical effects of these inhibitors on primary blast samples from leukemia patients.
Clinical Trial KeywordsFLT3 inhibitor
Selected PublicationsView all on Pubmed
Levis M, Tse K-F, Smith BD, Garrett E, Small D. A FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitor is cytotoxic to AML blasts harboring a FLT3/ITD mutation. Blood. 2001 Aug 1;98(3):885-7.
Levis M, Brown P, Smith BD, Stine A, Pham R, Stone R, DeAngelo D, Galinsky I, Giles F, Estey E, Kantarjian H, Cohen P, Wang Y, Roesel J, Karp J, and Small D. Plasma inhibitory activity (PIA): A pharmacodynamic assay reveals insights into the basis for cytotoxic response to FLT3 inhibitors. Blood 2006 Nov 15;108(10):3477. PMC1895426
Sexauer A, Perl A, Yang X, Borowitz M, Gocke C, Rajkhowa T, Thiede C, Frattini M, Nybakken GE, Pratz K, Karp J, Smith BD, Levis M. Terminal myeloid differentiation in vivo is induced by FLT3 inhibition in FLT3/ITD AML. Blood. 2012;120(20):4205-14. PMCID: 3501718.
Ravandi F, Alattar ML, Grunwald MR, Rudek MA, Rajkhowa T, Richie MA, Pierce S, Daver N, Garcia-Manero G, Faderl S, Nazha A, Konopleva M, Borthakur G, Burger J, Kadia T, Dellasala S, Andreeff M, Cortes J, Kantarjian H, Levis M. Phase 2 study of azacytidine plus sorafenib in patients with acute myeloid leukemia and FLT-3 internal tandem duplication mutation. Blood. 2013;121(23):4655-62. PMCID: 3674666.
Cortes JE, Kantarjian H, Foran JM, Ghirdaladze D, Zodelava M, Borthakur G, Gammon G, Trone D, Armstrong RC, James J, Levis M. Phase 1 study of quizartinib administered daily to patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia irrespective of FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3-internal tandem duplication status. J Clin Oncol. 2013; 31(29):3681-7. PMCID: 3804291.
Contact for Research Inquiries
Cancer Research Building
1650 Orleans Street
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Academic Affiliations & Courses
Graduate Program Affiliation
Activities & Honors
- Clinical Scholar of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
- American Society of Hematology
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- European Hematology Association