The Leon Levine Foundation Invests $7.5 Million to Transform Cancer Care in the Carolinas

Gift to help advance research, bring new treatment options to Atrium Health

June 19, 2023

One of the nation’s leading cancer programs is the recipient of a $7.5 million gift designed to advance research and bring the latest cancer innovations in precision medicine to the Carolinas. The donation to Atrium Health Foundation’s Giving Hope campaign comes from Sandra and the late Leon Levine through The Leon Levine Foundation, benefiting Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute.

Atrium Health Levine Cancer

In addition to funding research and education for all of Atrium Health’s cancer programs, the gift will support the new radiation therapy facility, currently under construction in Charlotte near Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center. The new facility will house Levine Cancer Institute’s most technically advanced services, including gamma knife radiosurgery and the Carolinas’ first proton beam therapy.

To recognize the Levine’s commitment – which brings their lifetime collective contributions to Atrium Health to over $80 million – all Atrium Health cancer services in the Carolinas will now be aligned under one unifying name: Atrium Health Levine Cancer.

“The Leon Levine Foundation has been instrumental in the advancement of care for so many North Carolinians – no matter their race, ethnicity or background,” said Ken Haynes, president of the Southeast region of Advocate Health, of which Atrium Health is a part. “Today, we bring together the brightest minds at two nationally recognized cancer centers – Levine Cancer Institute and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center – so we can more effectively collaborate and better serve patients from all walks of life. Atrium Health Levine Cancer has and forever will be synonymous with world-class care.”

Together, the two programs that now comprise Atrium Health Levine Cancer represent the largest cancer program in the Carolinas and one of the largest programs in the Southeast. Their combination means more than 440 providers and 3,000 teammates across 78 practices and at 28 locations will care for more than 35,000 new patients each year. These patients will have access to the most novel therapies and robust survivorship and cancer rehabilitation programs.

“When we made our gift to support the first Levine Cancer Institute facility, which opened in 2012, our vision was to help change the course of cancer care in the Carolinas,” said Sandra Levine.

Levine’s husband, Leon, was the founder and chairman of Family Dollar. Leon Levine passed away in April, leaving a tremendous and lasting legacy in the Carolinas, significantly in the health care community.

“We felt strongly that everyone should have access to the most current treatment options, close to home,” added Levine. “Now, after a decade, we have witnessed tremendous progress as Atrium Health consistently pursues and achieves excellence in cancer research and patient care.”

The newly integrated Atrium Health Levine Cancer will be fueled by the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in Western North Carolina, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Winston-Salem based center is one of just 54 in the country with such a designation and is ranked in the top 5%, nationwide.

“We are stronger together, and we know the integration of our cancer programs will lead to even better care for the patients we serve,” said Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, executive vice president and chief academic officer of Advocate Health, who also serves as CEO of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and executive vice president for health affairs at Wake Forest University. “In addition, our scientists, faculty and students at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the academic core of Advocate Health, will be able to expand their groundbreaking research, foster an even greater collaboration between teams, provide more opportunities for clinical trials and enhance medical education for the next generation of health care leaders.”

“Together, our team at Atrium Health Levine Cancer will prevent, detect, treat and help more patients survive cancer,” said Dr. Ruben Mesa, president of Atrium Health Levine Cancer and executive director of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We will make life-saving research discoveries and reduce health disparities in the Carolinas and across the country.”

“We are deeply grateful for Sandra and Leon Levine’s leadership and their confidence in our mission to provide the best and most equitable health care experience for our patients,” added Mesa. “They inspire others in the communities we serve to support our vision and are making a lasting impact to improve lives for generations to come.”