Julia Finkelstein


Julia Finkelstein

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition | The Follett Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow
218 Savage Hall
Phone: (607) 255-9180 Fax: (607) 255-1033
Email: jfinkelstein@cornell.edu
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Biographical Statement:

Dr. Julia Finkelstein is the Follett Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University. She is also an adjunct Associate Professor at St. John's Research Institute in Bangalore, India. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from McGill University, Master of Public Health degree from Brown University, and Master of Science and Doctor of Science degrees in Epidemiology and Nutritional Epidemiology from Harvard University.

Dr. Finkelstein is an epidemiologist with expertise in the design and conduct of randomized clinical trials, cohort studies, and surveillance programs in resource-limited settings. The goal of the Finkelstein Laboratory is to elucidate the role of vitamin B12 in the etiology of anemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes, and inform the development of interventions to improve the health of mothers and young children.  

Dr. Finkelstein was awarded the ILSI North America Future Leader Award in 2017. She served as an expert consultant for the World Health Organization on topics including the WHO Vitamin and Mineral Information System, Chair of the B-vitamins and One-Carbon Metabolism symposium in the Experimental Biology conference, an external expert with the World Health Organization Nutrition Guidelines Group, and NIH reviewer for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Teaching and Advising Statement:

William Yeats put it best: Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire

My training in nutrition, epidemiology, and public health have shaped my perspectives in teaching and mentoring. As an epidemiologist, scientist, and public health researcher, I envision my role is to mentor and inspire the next generation of leaders in the field of nutrition and global health: to inspire students to find a nutritional problem that fascinates them, to challenge them to think critically about its burden and etiology, and to develop solutions that advance human health. 

I enjoy teaching nutrition, epidemiology, and research methods to undergraduate and graduate students, and health care professionals in domestic and international settings. In my teaching approach, I emphasize establishing a strong foundation in biological sciences and quantitative methods, foster critical thinking and analytic skills, provide opportunities to develop skills through problem-based learning, and translate knowledge gained to develop interventions to improve public health. This includes the development of individual leadership and interdisciplinary teamwork skills, and application of discovery to improve the health of populations.  

In the Division of Nutritional Sciences, I teach NS3600 | Epidemiology, the foundational epidemiology methods course in our new undergraduate major, Global and Public Health Sciences, and the B-vitamins section in our graduate nutritional biochemistry course, NS6310 | Micronutrients: Function, Homeostasis and Assessment. I serve as faculty advisor for students in the graduate field of epidemiology at Cornell, advise undergraduate students in Global and Public Health Sciences and Human Biology Health and Society, and mentor undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral scholars as part of my research laboratory.

Current Professional Activities:

Scientific Advisory Boards, Panels, and Consensus Committees
Chair, B-Vitamins and One-Carbon Metabolism | Vitamin and Mineral Research Interest Section Mini Symposium, 2016 Experimental Biology Conference    
External Expert, World Health Organization Nutrition Guideline Group Meeting
Advisory Board Member, WorldMap Steering Committee, Harvard University

Expert Consultancies 
World Health Organization 
HarvestPlus/International Food Policy Research Institute 
VitaMe Technologies 

Granting Agencies Study Section
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases  

Professional Development
Cornell Center for Teaching Excellence, Teaching Scholar Program
Alan Alda Center Science Communication Workshop, Kavli Institute, Cornell University
Empowering Women in Science and Engineering Symposium, Cornell University
Dannon Institute Nutrition Leadership Institute
Women in Global Health Research Initiative, Weill Cornell Medical College
World Health Organization/Cochrane/Cornell Summer Institute for Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making

Professional Society Memberships 
American Society of Nutrition
International Epidemiological Association
Infectious Diseases Society of America
HIV Medicine Association
Global Health Council
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 
American Public Health Association

Conferences Organized  
Chair, Cornell Geospatial Forum

Adjunct Faculty Appointments
Adjunct Associate Professor, St. John’s Research Institute, Bangalore, India

Graduate Field Appointments, Cornell University 
Global Development
Latin American Studies 
Immunology and Infectious Disease

Program Center and Institute Affiliations
World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Implementation Research in Nutrition and Global Policy, Division of Nutritional Sciences
Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies 
South Asia Program
Latin America Studies Program
Institute for African Development
Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future 
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research
Institute for Nutrition, Global Health, and Technology
Cornell Dairy Center for Excellence
Cornell Population Center Center for Infection and Pathology

Current Research Activities:

The goal of my research program is to elucidate the role of vitamin B12 and folate in the etiology of anemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes, and inform the development of interventions to improve the health of mothers and young children. Current major research projects includes surveillance programs, observational cohort studies, and randomized clinical trials in Southern India:

  1. Vitamin B12 and Perinatal Health: Elucidating Mechanisms and Biomarkers for Prevention of Birth Defects (ILSI 2017 Future Leader Grant) 
  2. Periconceptional Surveillance for Prevention of Anemia and Birth Defects in India (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  3. Biomarkers of Iron Status in Women of Reproductive Age for Prevention of Anemia and Birth Defects in India (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  4. The Role of Vitamin B12 in the Etiology of Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes (PCCW)  
  5. Randomized Efficacy Trials of Biofortification to Improve Maternal and Child Health in India (HarvestPlus/IFPRI)



Doctor of Science, Harvard University, 2011
Master of Science, Harvard University, 2010
Master of Public Health, Brown University, 2005  
Bachelor of Science, McGill University, 2002  

Courses Taught:

NS3600 | Epidemiology 
NS6310 | Micronutrients: Function, Homeostasis and Assessment, B-vitamins section

BIOG4990 | Independent Undergraduate Research in Biology 
NS4010 | Empirical Research 

Guest Lectures

  • NS6140 | Topics in Maternal and Child Nutrition - HIV/AIDS: A Global Challenge to Maternal and Child Health 
  • NS3980 | Research in Human Nutrition and Health - Nutrition, Epidemiology, and Perinatal Health  
  • NS3060 | Nutrition and Global Health - Maternal and Child Health, Epidemiology, and International Nutrition
  • NS1200 | Nutrition and Health: Issues, Outlooks, and Opportunities - International and Public Health Nutrition
  • IARD4020 | Agriculture in Developing Nations - Nutritional Challenges in India 
  • IARD/LATA4010 | Experience Latin America - Nutritional Problems in Latin America 
  • BIOG1200 | Biology Scholars Program Freshman Seminar - Micronutrients, Infection, and Maternal and Child Health  


Related Websites:


Selected Publications:
  1. Finkelstein JL, Kurpad AV, Thomas T, Srinivasan K, Duggan C. Vitamin B12 status in pregnant women and their infants in South India. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Apr 12. Link
  2. Finkelstein JL, Haas JD, Mehta S. Iron-Biofortified Staple Food Crops for Improving Iron Status: A Review of the Current Evidence. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 2017, 44: 138-145. Link      
  3. De-Regil LM, Finkelstein JL, Saeterdal I, Gaitán D, Peña-Rosas JP. Fortification of wheat and maize flour with folic acid for population health outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD012150. 
  4. Venkatramanan S*, Armata IE*, Strupp BJ, Finkelstein JL. Vitamin B-12 and Cognition in Children. Advances in Nutrition. 2016; 7:1–10. Link    
  5. Layden AJ*, O’Brien KO, Pressman EK, Cooper EM, Kent TR, Finkelstein JL. Vitamin B12 and Placental Transcobalamin Expression in Pregnant Adolescents. Placenta. 2016; 45:1-7. Link  
  6. De Steur H, Mehta S, Gellynck X, Finkelstein JL. Technological Innovations to Improve Micronutrient Content of Biofortified Staple Crops: A review of the current evidence on efficacy. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 2017 Apr;44:181-188. Link
  7. Colt S, Garcia-Casal MN, Peña-Rosas JP, Finkelstein JL, Rayco-Solon P, Weise Prinzo ZC, Mehta S. Transmission of Zika virus through breast milk and other breastfeeding-related bodily-fluids: A systematic review. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 Apr 10;11(4):e0005528. Link
  8. Herman HS*, Mehta S, Cárdenas WB, Stewart-Ibarra AM, Finkelstein JL. Micronutrients and Leptospirosis: A Review of the Current Evidence. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2016; 10(7). Link    
  9. Chung HJ*, Han SH, Kim H, Finkelstein JL. Childhood immunizations in China: disparities in health care access in children born to North Korean refugees. BMC Int Health Hum Rights. 2016 Apr 13;16(1):13. Link 
  10. Boy E, Haas JD, Petry N, Cercamondi C, Gahutu JB, Mehta S, Finkelstein JL, Hurrell RF. Iron-Biofortified Crops. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development Impact. April 2017. 17(2): 3. 11879-11892.      
  11. Finkelstein JL, Layden AJ*, Stover PJ. Vitamin B-12 and Perinatal Health. Advances in Nutrition. 2015 Sep 15; 6(5): 552-63. Link
  12. Finkelstein JL, Mehta S, Udipi SA, Ghugre P, Luna SV, Wenger MJ, Murray-Kolb LE, Przybyszewski E, Haas JD. A Randomized Efficacy Trial of Iron Biofortified Pearl Millet in India. J. Nutr. 6 May 2015. Link
  13. Finkelstein JL, Gala P*, Rochford R, Glesby MJ, Mehta S. HIV/AIDS and Lipodystrophy: Implications for clinical management in resource-limited settings. Journal of the International AIDS Society. 2015 Jan 15;18(1):19033. Link
  14. Martiniova L, Field MS, Finkelstein JL, Perry CA, Stover PJ. Maternal dietary uridine causes, and deoxyuridine prevents, neural tube closure defects in a mouse model of folate-responsive neural tube defects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015 Apr; 101(4):860-9. Link
  15. Finkelstein JL, Pressman EK, Cooper EM, Kent TR, Bar HY, O’Brien KO. Vitamin D Status Impacts Serum Metabolomic Profiles in Pregnant Adolescents. Reproductive Sciences. 2014 Nov 2. Link
  16. De Moura FF, Palmer AC, Finkelstein JL, Haas JD, Murray-Kolb LE, Wenger MJ, Birol E, Boy E,Peña-Rosas JP. Are Biofortified Staple Food Crops Improving Vitamin A and Iron Status in Women and Children? New Evidence from Efficacy Trials. Advances in Nutrition. September 2014 5 568-570. Link
  17. Ahmed S, Finkelstein JL, Stewart A, Kenneth J, Polhemus M, Endy T, Mehta S. Micronutrients and Dengue: A Review of the Current Evidence. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 2014 Sep 8. Link 
  18. Stewart-Ibarra AM, Muñoz AG, Ryan SJ, Borbor MJ, Beltran Ayala E, Finkelstein JL, Mejia R, Ordoñez T, Recalde Coronel C, Rivero K. Spatiotemporal clustering, climate periodicity, and social-ecological risk factors for dengue during an outbreak in Machala, Ecuador, in 2010. BMC Infectious Diseases. 2014 Nov 25;14(1):610. Link
  19. Escobar LE, Ryan SJ, Stewart-Ibarra AM, Finkelstein JL, King CA, Qiao H, Polhemus ME. A global map of suitability for coastal Vibrio cholerae under current and future climate conditions. Acta Trop. 2015 Sep;149:202-11. Link
  20. Duggan C, Srinivasan K, Thomas T, Samuel T, Rajendran R, Muthayya S, Finkelstein JL, Lukose A, Fawzi W, Allen LH, Bosch RJ, Kurpad AV. Vitamin B12 Supplementation during Pregnancy and Early Lactation Increases Maternal, Breast Milk, and Infant Measures of Vitamin B12 Status. Journal of Nutrition. 2014 Mar 5. Link
  21. Kuriyan R, Griffiths JK, Finkelstein JL, Thomas T, Raj T, Bosch R, Kurpad AV, Duggan C. Innovations in Nutrition Education and Global Health: The Bangalore Boston Nutrition Collaborative. BMC Medical Education. 2014 14:5. Link
  22. Yu EA, Finkelstein JL, Mehta S. HIV and Micronutrients. Editors: Pammi M, Vallejo JG, Abrams SA. Taylor and Francis Books, Inc.: Boca Raton, FL. Nutrition-Infection Interactions and Impacts on Human Health. 2014.
  23. Finkelstein JL, O’Brien KO, Abrams SA, Zavaleta N. Infant Iron Status Impacts Iron Absorption in Peruvian Breast-fed Infants at Two and Five Months of Age. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013 Dec; 98(6):1475-84.3. Link
  24. Samuel TM, Thomas T, Finkelstein JL, Bosch R, Rajendran R, Virtanen SM, Srinivasan K, Kurpad AV, Duggan C. Correlates of anaemia in pregnant urban South Indian women: a possible role of dietary intake of nutrients that inhibit iron absorption. Public Health Nutrition. 2012 May 11:1-9. 
  25. Finkelstein JL, Mehta S, Fawzi WW. HIV and iron-deficiency anaemia. Public Health Nutrition. 2012 Mar 20:1. 
  26. Finkelstein JL, Mehta S, Duggan C, Manji KP, Mugusi FM, Aboud S, Spiegelman D, Msamanga GI, Fawzi WW. Maternal Vitamin D Status and Child Morbidity, Anemia, and Growth in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-exposed Children in Tanzania. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 2012 Feb;31(2):171-175.
  27. Blossom J, Finkelstein JL, Burns B, Guan W. Applying GIS Methods to Public Health Research. Blatt AJ, Ed. Perspectives in Medical Geography. Theory and Applications for Librarians. UK: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group; 2012 Feb.
  28. Guan W, Burns B, Finkelstein JL, Blossom JC. Enabling Geographic Research Across Disciplines: Building an Institutional Infrastructure for Geographic Analysis. Blatt AJ, Ed. Perspectives in Medical Geography. Theory and Applications for Librarians. UK: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group; 2012 Feb.
  29. Finkelstein JL, Mehta S, Duggan CP, Spiegelman D, Aboud S, Kupka R, Msamanga GI, Fawzi WW. Predictors of anaemia and iron deficiency in HIV-infected pregnant women in Tanzania: a potential role for vitamin D and parasitic infections. Public Health Nutrition. 2012 May;15(5):928-37.  
  30. Mehta S, Mugusi FM, Bosch R, Aboud S, Chatterjee A, Finkelstein JL, Fataki M, Kisenge R, Fawzi, WW. A randomized trial of micronutrient supplementation in children with tuberculosis in Tanzania. Journal of Nutrition. J 2011 10:120.
  31. Finkelstein JL, Manji KP, Duggan C, Hertzmark E, Mehta S, Msamanga GI, Spiegelman D, Fawzi WW. Predictors of incident tuberculosis in HIV-exposed children in Tanzania. EAMJ. 2012 Jun; 89(6): 183-192.  
  32. Blossom JC, Finkelstein JL, Guan WW, Burns B. Applying GIS Methods to Public Health Research at Harvard University. Journal of Map and Geographic Libraries: Geographic Opportunities in Medicine. 2011 Jun; 7:3, 349-376.
  33. Mehta S, Mugusi FM, Spiegelman D, Villamor E, Finkelstein JL, Hertzmark E, Giovannucci EL, Msamanga GI, Fawzi WW. Vitamin D Status and its Association with Morbidity Including Wasting and Opportunistic Illnesses in HIV-Infected Women in Tanzania. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2011 Oct;25(10):579-85. Epub 2011 Sep 14. 
  34. Njelekela MA, Liu E, Mpembeni R, Muhihi A, Mligiliche N, Spiegelman D, Finkelstein JL, Fawzi WW, Willett WC, Mtabaji J. Socio-economic status, urbanization, and cardiometabolic risk factors among middle-aged adults in Tanzania. EAJPH. 2011 Sep;8(3):216-23.
  35. Guan W, Burns B, Finkelstein JL, Blossom JC. Enabling Geographic Research Across Disciplines: Building an institutional infrastructure for geographic analysis at Harvard University. Journal of Map and Geographic Libraries: Geographic Opportunities in Medicine. 2011 Jan: 7(1), 36-60. 
  36. Fawzi MC, Lambert W, Boehm F, Finkelstein JL, Singler JM, Léandre F, Nevil P, Bertrand D, Claude MS, Bertrand J, Louissaint M, Jeannis L, Farmer PE, Yang AT, Mukherjee JS. Economic Risk Factors for HIV Infection Among Women in Rural Haiti: Implications for HIV Prevention Policies and Programs in Resource-Poor Settings. Journal of Women’s Health. 2010 Apr 10.
  37. Finkelstein JL, Mugusi FM, Mehta S, Fawzi WW. HIV/AIDS and Nutrition in the HAART Era: Programmatic implications for HIV/AIDS care and treatment in resource-limited settings. Marlink RG, Teitelman SJ, Eds. From the Ground Up: Building Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Care Programs in Resource-Limited Settings. Washington, DC: Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; 2009.
  38. Njelekela MA, Mpembeni R, Muhihi A, Mligiliche NL, Spiegelman D, Hertzmark E, Liu E, Finkelstein JL, Fawzi WW, Willett WC, Mtabaji J. Gender-related differences in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors and their correlates in urban Tanzania. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders. 2009 Jul 17; 9:30. 
  39. Mehta S, Finkelstein JL, Fawzi WW. Micronutrient status and pregnancy outcomes in HIV-infected women. Editors: Lammi-Keefe CJ, Couch SC, Philipson, E. Humana Press: Baton Rouge, LA. Handbook of Nutrition and Pregnancy 2008; 23: 355-365. 
  40. Kupka R, Mugusi F, Aboud S, Msamanga GI, Finkelstein JL, Spiegelman D, Fawzi WW. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of selenium supplements among HIV-infected pregnant women in Tanzania: Effects on maternal and child outcomes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008 Jun; 87(6):1802-8. 
  41. Finkelstein JL, Schleinitz MD, Carabin H, McGarvey ST. Decision-model estimation of the age-specific disability weight for schistosomiasis japonica. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2008 Mar 5;2(3):e158. Accompanied by an Editorial Commentary: King CH. Schistosomiasis Japonica: The DALYs Recaptured. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2008 Mar 5;2(3):e203.
  42. Mehta S, Finkelstein JL, Fawzi WW. Nutrition, HIV infection, and breastfeeding. HIV and Nutrition. Editor: Solomons N. Medical and Scientific Publishers, S. Karger: Basel, Switzerland. Annales Nestlé. 2007; 65:39-48.

*Mentees in my research laboratory 

Selected Keywords:
Epidemiology, Iron, Vitamin B12, Folate, B-vitamins, One-carbon metabolism, Micronutrients, Anemia, Maternal and Child Health, Pregnancy, Perinatal Health, Public Health, International Nutrition, Global Health, HIV, Infectious diseases, Neglected tropical diseases, India, Latin America, Geographic Information Systems, Spatial Analysis

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.