What’s New

Native Plan Garden at Leon Levy Preserve Wins Award


Lewisboro Land Trust is the recipient of Westchester County’s Soil and Water Conservation Achievement award for the implementation of the native plant garden at the Leon Levy Preserve in Lewisboro. The commendation was presented on December 15, 2015 at the Westchester County Center.  The native plant garden, which opened to the public in summer 2015, replaced a lawn that required ongoing maintenance by the town.  Funded by the Jerome Levy Foundation, Lewisboro Land Trust hired landscape designer Pam Pooley to work with Shelby White to create a 5,000-square-foot garden that is low maintenance, deer resistant, friendly to bees and butterflies, and educational. John Jay High School’s Senior Intern Program supplied four seniors who helped plant the garden.

ISAW Exhibit Reveals Unprecedented Photographs of Life in the Royal Court in Tehran


The Eye of the Shah: Qajar Court Photography and the Persian Past is the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World’s latest gallery exhibition presenting some 200 photographic prints, a number of vintage photographic albums, and memorabilia that utilized formal portraiture of the shah. The exhibition shows how photographers—many of them engaged by Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (r. 1848-1896), the longest reigning Shah of the Qajar Dynasty (1785-1925)— ultimately created a portrait of the country’s ancient and recent past. Most of the photographs in the exhibition have never been publicly displayed.  The exhibit runs from October 22, 2015-January 17, 2016.

IFA Conservation Center Features Leon Levy Fellows

Elkourany Nadia1

The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts has offered, with funds from the Leon Levy Foundation, much-needed training in archaeological conservation to graduate-level students from around the world since 2009. Candidates have come from a broad range of countries including Albania, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Malawi, China, and Egypt. These Levy Visiting Fellows, who enroll in a one-year immersion course at the Conservation Center and then return to their country to work,  are featured in the Center’s latest Newsgram.

Read about the seventh fellow, Egyptian Nadia Fawzy Elkourany (at left), selected for the 2015-16 academic year, and what her predecessors are doing here. (Photo: Nita Lee Roberts/IFA)

The Ancient Roman Lod Mosaic Arrives in Venice, Italy

LOD Venice

On 9 October 2015, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center, unveiled A Menagerie of Wonders. The Ancient Roman Lod Mosaic at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini at the exhibition centre on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. The only Italian stage of a travelling exhibition that has taken the mosaic to some major world museums has been made possible thanks to the support of Patricia and Phillip Frost.

The mosaic was uncovered in 1996 in the Israeli town of Lod, which according to an ancient legend was the birthplace of Saint George. Dating from the 3rd century AD, the mosaic is also particularly interesting because it is so well preserved. One of the finest and largest mosaic floors ever found in Israel, this archaeological gem consists of panels with detailed images of mammals, birds, fish, various plants and ancient ships. The mosaic is made of cubic stone tesserae of various colours: blue, red, yellow, brown, white, several shades of grey, and black.

The mosaic will be on view until 10 January 2016.

The Annual Leon Levy Biography Lecture with Brenda Wineapple

Bio Center

Brenda Wineapple, the acclaimed biographer of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Gertrude and Leo Stein, Janet Flanner and Emily Dickinson, delivered a speech on “The Rosebud Effect: Mystery in Biography” to a full capacity audience at the Leon Levy Biography Lecture on Monday, Oct. 5, at the Graduate Center of CUNY.  An annual event sponsored by the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the lecture has been delivered by Robert Caro, Ron Chernow, Stacy Shiff and others.  Details are here.

Leon Levy Fellowship in Neuroscience Renewed For $1.92 Million

Portraits of Dr. Jacqueline Burré, Dr. Alon Seifen and  Dr. Brendon Watson

With a new $1.92 million grant, the Leon Levy Foundation is renewing the fellowship  at Weill Cornell through 2019 and doubling the length of the program, expanding the term from one year to two.  The fellowship provides these burgeoning physicians and scientists with funds to develop and advance their research projects and publish their findings in journals — all of which lay the foundation for additional financial support down the road. They also get the opportunity to network with other neuroscientists during an annual symposium sponsored by the Leon Levy Foundation.  “This fellowship gives junior faculty a year or two to establish their laboratory and develop some preliminary results so that they can go to the National Institutes of Health or other funding institutions and get a full-fledged grant, which is what really gets the science going,”said Dr. Costantino Iadecola, director of the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Anne Parrish Titzell Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at Weill Cornell, who leads the fellowship program at the medical college.

Pictured above 2015 Leon Levy fellows:  Drs. Jacqueline Burré, center, Alon Seifan, left, and Brendon Watson, right


Weill Cornell Researchers Make Important Discovery

Blaho, Victoria

Dr. Victoria Blaho, an instructor in pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and a former Leon Levy Fellow, is first author of a study published June 8, 2015 in Nature. The study makes an important discovery about high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is often referred to as “good” cholesterol because it transports fat molecules out of blood vessels, protecting against stroke and heart disease. Dr. Blaho, along with senior investigator Dr. Timothy Hla of Weill Cornell and researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Stanford University, found that a lipid molecule called sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) that is bound to HDL suppresses the formation of T and B immune cells in the bone marrow. In doing so, HDL and S1P block these cells from launching an abnormal immune response that leads to damaging inflammation, a hallmark of many disorders including autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease and neuroinflammatory disease, such as multiple sclerosis. “Blood HDL levels are associated with heart and brain health — the higher the HDL in blood, the less risk one has for cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and dementia,” Dr. Hla said. “The corollary is that the lower the HDL, the higher the risk of these diseases.”

Leon Levy Trustees Explore the BBG’s New Discovery Garden

BBG Shelby Liz and Scot in DG

Shelby White and Elizabeth Moynihan visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s nearly completed new Discovery Garden in May. More than four times its original size and full of exiting plant display and interactive exhibits for kids and families, it opens on June 6  with “Frolic” a public program and free day. The Discovery Garden is one of a series of new projects within BBG’s Campaign for the Next Century made possible with leadership support from the Leon Levy Foundation. Construction on a new Water Garden starts immediately after, followed by phase 3 of the Water Conservation project and a new Woodland Garden.  Shown in the photo with Ms. White and Ms. Moynihan is Scot Medbuy, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

2015 Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellows Symposium

2015 Neuro Symp

On Thursday, April 30, 2015, the Leon Levy Foundation held its 4th Annual Leon Levy Fellows in Neuroscience Symposium.  Hosted by NYU Langone Medical Center, the event was attended by current Leon Levy Fellows as well as their mentors, former fellows, and other affiliated principal investigators from across five participating research institutions: Columbia University Medical Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NYU Langone Medical Center, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College. The plenary talk was delivered by Richard Tsien, D.Phil., the Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience, Chair of Neuroscience & Physiology, and Director of the Neuroscience Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center. The Symposium offers a unique opportunity to have experts in the field meet, present and discuss the latest in neuroscience research.

Leon Levy Fellow Featured In A Documentary


Malawian Moses Mkumpha, who in 2014-15 studied conservation at the Conservation Center of New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in a program funded by the Leon Levy Foundation, is the subject of a new documentary made by CCTV and shown in Africa on April 5, 2015.

As the only trained cultural conservator in Malawi, Mkumpha was featured in a “Faces of Africa” series. It shows him, following his return to Malawi from New York, traveling his country, taking measure of its famous rock paintings, Stone Age implements, fossils and other natural history and cultural heritage artifacts so that he can devise plans to preserve them. But many obstacles stand in his way, including thieves at a slaving fort and graffiti vandals.

Watch the documentary here.