The Dr. Robert Ira Lewy Distinguished Lecture Series in Jewish History and Culture is the result of the generosity and vision of Dr. Robert Ira Lewy, prominent physician and medical researcher. Dr. Lewy endowed the series in order to offer the NYU community the opportunity to hear internationally-renowned scholars present original research on the history and culture of the Jews, with emphasis on German Jewry and its intellectual accomplishments in science, medicine, and the arts.
Born in Brooklyn in 1943, Dr. Lewy distinguished himself as a student, graduating magna cum laude from Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA). He was awarded the Roberts Prize in Biology, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to bring Dr. Martin Luther King to campus. Subsequently he pursued an interest in Buddhism as a Woodrow Wilson Scholar at Princeton. In 1971 he received his MD degree from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine with honors in Obstetrics and Psychiatry. His interest in multiple myeloma led him to a Clinical and Research Fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University. He was also awarded a prestigious research grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Dr. Lewy’s research on the hematological effects of aspirin resulted in numerous scientific publications and helped revolutionize the cardiological use of anti-platelet therapy. His studies continued the pioneering work of John Vane, who received the 1982 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of the link between aspirin and prostaglandins. He has also published on drug treatment of high-grade brain cancers.
A longtime member of the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine and of the University of Texas Health Science Center, both in Houston, Dr. Lewy received certifications in Internal Medicine and Hematology. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American College of Rheumatology. During the early years of the AIDS epidemic (1979-1985) he helped pioneer treatment for the gay community in Houston and founded the first AIDS-only treatment unit. In the 1990s he conducted pathbreaking research on the health aspects of silicone breast implants, leading to action by the United States Food and Drug Administration to correct the safety issues he identified by a ban for all uses for 14 years. Brown University School of Public Health on November 9, 2015 concluded that silicone gel breast implants required further study to be proven safe.
Dr. Lewy, who also completed legal studies at South Texas College of Law, has been named a distinguished alumnus of Stuyvesant High School, where he endowed the Dr. Robert Ira Lewy Multimedia Center. Later in life a chance discovery online of a photo of his great uncle, the illustrious Jewish scholar Dr. Israel Lewy, sparked a passionate attachment to his German Jewish heritage and moved him to compile a digital archive of German Judaica featuring his family’s history (http://digital.cjh.org/1645652 and http://digital.cjh.org/1651248). He is also the nephew of Emmanuel Levinas, one of the twentieth century’s most important philosophers. With the Dr. Robert Ira Lewy Distinguished Lecture Series in Jewish History and Culture, Dr. Lewy, now a proud grandfather of two, has erected a lasting memorial to his forebears. NYU has recognized his philanthropy, naming him to its prestigious Society of the Torch. Examples of Dr. Lewy's continued philanthropy are his recent gifts to the Galaxy Society of the Manhattan School of Music, the Enso Legacy of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, and a large bequest to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Legacy Society.
Learn about the Robert Lewy Family Digital Collection, 1810-2003
Learn about the Robert Lewy Ancestry Collection, 1900-1990
See a list of Dr. Lewy's publications here