Interview with Seymour H. Levitt

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Interview with Seymour H. Levitt

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University of Minnesota


Oral History


Levitt begins by describing his childhood and his decision to study medicine. He describes his time in the military. He discusses the choice to do two residencies (radiology and internal medicine) in San Francisco. He describes the changes that have occurred in therapeutic radiology over the course of his career. He discusses his tenure at other universities and the decision to come to the University of Minnesota to build the therapeutic radiology department. He describes using linear accelerators in place of cobalt machines at the University of Minnesota. He discusses the influence of foreign physicians on American radiation therapy and the conflicts among physicians treating people with cancers. He also discusses the culture of the medical school. He describes his involvement with the Bone Marrow Transplant Program and the Masonic Cancer Center. He discusses the implications of the ALG litigation on the Medical School and the University of Minnesota. He also discusses the sale of the University Hospital to Fairview Health Systems. He concludes with the impact of changing imaging technologies on his field.


Though born in Chicago, Illinois, Seymour Levitt spent most of his early life in Colorado. He received his bachelors and medical degrees from the University of Colorado, in 1950 and 1954, respectively. After an internship at Philadelphia General Hospital and time in Stuttgart, Germany with the US Military as a General Medical Officer and a Ward Officer (1955-1957), he did residencies in internal medicine and radiology at the University of California at San Francisco (1957-1961). Dr. Levitt went on to hold all f the following positions: from 1961 to 1962, he was an instructor in radiation therapy at the University of Michigan; from 1962 to 1963, he was an assistant radiotherapist at the University of Rochester Medical Center; from 1963 to 1966, he was a radiotherapist and the chief of the Division of Radiation Therapy at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center; and from 1966 to 1970, he chairman of the Division of Radiotherapy and Oncology at the Medical College of Virginia. Dr. Levitt was recruited to the University of Minnesota as a professor in and head of the Department of Therapeutic Radiology in 1970 as well as chief of the Therapeutic Radiology Service, both of which he established. In 1997, an endowed chair in clinical radiation oncology was created in his name. He continues to be on the faculty of the University of Minnesota as a professor emeritus and also has served as an adjunct professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm since 2002.

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Tobbell, Dominique A.; Levitt, Seymour H.. (2012). Interview with Seymour H. Levitt. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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