Member Spotlight on Aaron Levine, PhD
Seattle, WA, USA
Atlanta, GA, USA
MPhil in Biological Sciences, University of Cambridge
PhD in Public Affairs, Princeton University
Associate Professor & Director of Graduate Studies, School of Public Policy, Georgia Tech
What is the current focus of your research?
My research focuses on understanding the influence of ethical controversy and public policy on biomedical rthesearch and healthcare. Within this broad area, I have focused on understanding how these forces have shaped the conduct of stem cell research and the development of cell-based therapies specifically.
Much of this work has examined ethical controversy surrounding the acquisition and use of human embryos and oocytes for stem cell research and assessed how this has influenced the policy environment and, in turn, shaped the field.
My research also addresses a series of related questions relevant to the practice and oversight of assisted reproductive technology (e.g. IVF) in the United States and around the world.
What led you to become a scientist and to stem cell research?I have been interested in science, especially biology, as long as I can remember and, as an undergraduate biology major, I planned on a career in biological research. My undergraduate experiences pipetting and unsuccessfully attempting to navigate a lengthy (and frustrating) electron microscopy protocol convinced me to look outside the laboratory.
I moved first to computational biology, where, as a Master’s student at Cambridge, I developed algorithms to find rare U12 introns in the human genome sequence. Then, when I found the ethical and policy implications of the genome project more exciting than annotating the sequence itself, I moved on to my current focus at the intersection of public policy and biomedical science.
How do you spend your free time?
Outside of work, when time permits, I enjoy photography and once spent a summer hitchhiking around the south island of New Zealand “studying” nature photography. I have switched to digital for the vast majority of my photography today, but I really prefer the pre-digital era and, for many years, developed and printed my own black and white photos.
What do you like most about living and working where you do?Atlanta is a fun city to live in. It’s affordable (compared to many similarly sized US cities), and has lots of good restaurants, parks and cultural amenities. It also has one of the world’s largest airports from which you can fly non-stop to more than 200 cities. This really makes travel to the ISSCR annual meeting a breeze.
Georgia Tech is renowned for its engineering programs, but is also an excellent place to study public policy, especially for someone with interests at the intersection of public policy and science and technology.
What do you gain from your membership with the ISSCR?
Editor’s note: You might also enjoy Policy Director Kevin Wilson's bi-weekly Policy Brief newsletter, a brief look at global science policy news of interest to the stem cell community.