Dr. Carl Levy, 53, chief of the Baltimore Cancer Research Center's laboratory of molecular biology, died Sunday of leukemia at the Center. He was a resident of Bethesda.

Dr. Levy joined the Baltimore Cancer Research Center, which is part of the National Cancer Institute, in 1968 as head of the enzymology and drug metabolism section. He later served as head of the pharmacology lab and was chief of the molecular biology laboratory at the time of his death.

He also did research in nucleic acid biochemistry, particularly the characterization of new and important enzymes. He was credited with discovering new procedures for the regulation of the intracellular messenger RNA. He was the author of more than 100 technical works.

Dr. Levy was a graduate of the old City College of New York. During the Korean conflict, he served in the Army and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Following his military service, he attended Rutgers University where he received a doctorate in biochemistry. He then spent several years studying in New Haven and in Boston before coming to the area in the early 1960s to work in the National Cancer Institute's laboratory of cellular physiology.

He was a member of the American Society of Biological Chemists, the American Chemical Society and the Biochemical Society.

Survivors include his wife of 28 years, Phyllis Houser Levy, of Bethesda, and two sons Charles and Douglas, also of Bethesda.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Baltimore Cancer Research Center, 22 South Greene St., Baltimore, Md., 21201.