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Julia

Finkelstein

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition | The Follett Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow
218 Savage Hall
Ithaca, New York
Division of Nutritional Sciences

Biography

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 Nutrition 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 iron, 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.  

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 at the Experimental Biology conference, external expert with the World Health Organization Nutrition Guidelines Group, and NIH reviewer for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The goal of my research program is to elucidate the role of iron, 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, cohort studies, and randomized 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. Differential Diagnosis of Anemia and Micronutrient Deficiencies (National Institutes of Health)  
  3. Periconceptional Surveillance for Prevention of Anemia and Birth Defects in India (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  4. Biomarkers of Iron Status in Women of Reproductive Age for Prevention of Anemia and Birth Defects in India (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  5. The Role of Vitamin B12 in the Etiology of Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes (PCCW) 
 
  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. Finkelstein JL, Mehta S. Micronutrients in HIV-infected Pregnant Women and their Children. Nutrition and HIV: Epidemiological Evidence to Public Health Practice. Editors: Mehta S and Finkelstein JL. CRC Press: 2018. In press.
  4. Finkelstein JL, Aribindi H*, Herman HS*, Mehta S. Micronutrients and HIV in Pediatric Populations. Nutrition and HIV: Epidemiological Evidence to Public Health Practice. Editors: Mehta S and Finkelstein JL. CRC Press: 2018. In press.  
  5. Layden AJ* and Finkelstein JL. B-vitamins and HIV/AIDS. Nutrition and HIV: Epidemiological Evidence to Public Health Practice. Editors: Mehta S and Finkelstein JL. CRC Press: 2018. In press.  
  6. Khondakar NR and Finkelstein JL. Iron and HIV/AIDS. Nutrition and HIV: Epidemiological Evidence to Public Health Practice. Editors: Mehta S and Finkelstein JL. CRC Press: 2018. In press.
  7. Srinivasan B, O’Dell D, Finkelstein JL, Lee S, Erickson D, Mehta S. ironPhone: Mobile device-coupled point-of-care diagnostics for assessment of iron status by quantification of serum ferritin. Biosensors and Bioelectronics. 2018 Jan 15;99:115-121. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2017.07.038. Epub 2017 Jul 19. Link
  8. 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. Link
  9. Venkatramanan S*, Armata IE*, Strupp BJ, and Finkelstein JL. Vitamin B-12 and Cognition in Children. Advances in Nutrition. 2016; 7:1–10. Link    
  10. Layden AJ*, O’Brien KO, Pressman EK, Cooper EM, Kent TR, and Finkelstein JL. Vitamin B12 and Placental Transcobalamin Expression in Pregnant Adolescents. Placenta. 2016; 45:1-7. Link 
  11. De Steur H, Mehta S, Gellynck X, and Finkelstein JL. GM biofortified crops: potential effects on targeting the micronutrient intake gap in human populations. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 2017 Apr; 44:181-188. Link
  12. 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
  13. Herman HS*, Mehta S, Cárdenas WB, Stewart-Ibarra AM, and Finkelstein JL. Micronutrients and Leptospirosis: A Review of the Current Evidence. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2016; 10(7). Link         
  14. Finkelstein JL, Layden AJ*, Stover PJ. Vitamin B-12 and Perinatal Health. Advances in Nutrition. 2015 Sep 15; 6(5): 552-63. Link
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  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. 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
  23. 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. 
  24. Finkelstein JL, Mehta S, Fawzi WW. HIV and iron-deficiency anaemia. Public Health Nutrition. 2012 Mar 20:1. 
  25. 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.
  26. 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. 
  27. 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.  
  28. 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.
  29. 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. 
  30. 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.

*Mentees in my research laboratory 

Scientific Advisory Boards, Panels, and Consensus Committees
Chair, B-Vitamins and One-Carbon Metabolism | Vitamin and Mineral Research Interest Section Mini Symposium, 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 

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

Professional Development
Cornell Center for Teaching Excellence, Teaching Scholar Program
Empowering Women in Science and Engineering Symposium, Cornell University
Women in Global Health Research Initiative, Weill Cornell Medical College

Professional Society Memberships 
American Society of Nutrition
Society for Epidemiologic Research
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 
Nutrition
Epidemiology
Global Development
Latin American Studies 
Immunology and Infectious Disease

Program Center and Institute Affiliations
World Health Organization/PAHO 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 for Infection and Pathology

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

Teaching is most effective when I am able to make a personal connection with students – and bring my experiences from the field into the classroom. My training in nutrition, epidemiology, biostatistics, 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 find a nutritional problem that fascinates them, to challenge them to think critically about its burden and etiology, and to translate scientific evidence to develop solutions to improve population health.  

I enjoy teaching nutrition, epidemiology, and research methods to undergraduate and graduate students, and health care professionals in domestic and international settings. I use distinct combinations of teaching methods tailored for the experience and needs at each level. In my teaching approach, I emphasize establishing a strong foundation in biological sciences and quantitative research methods, foster critical thinking and analytic skills, provide opportunities to further develop skills through problem-based learning, and translate the knowledge gained to nutrition and public health. I encourage the development of individual leadership and interdisciplinary teamwork, and the application of research methods and discovery to improve public health. 

In the Division of Nutritional Sciences, I teach NS3600 | Epidemiology, the foundational methods course in our Global and Public Health Sciences major, and the B-vitamins section of our graduate nutritional biochemistry course, NS | Micronutrients: Function, Homeostasis and Assessment. I also serve as an instructor in our annual World Health Organization/Cochrane/Cornell Summer Institute for Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making, and guest lecture in courses on epidemiology and maternal and child nutrition. I am a faculty advisor for students in the graduate fields of nutrition and 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 maternal and child nutrition research program.

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

BIOG4990 | Independent Undergraduate Research in Biology 
NS4010 | Empirical Research 
NS6010 | Special Topics for Graduate Students

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
  • BIOG1200 | Biology Scholars Program Freshman Seminar - Maternal and Child Nutrition  

Additional Teaching

  • World Health Organization/Cochrane/Cornell Summer Institute for Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making

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  

Nominations and Elections Committee, Faculty Senate      
Senator, Faculty Senate, Division of Nutritional Sciences Representative
Luce Scholars Program Endorsement Committee  
Faculty Advisor, Partners in Health | Engage at Cornell University     
Chair, Cornell Geospatial Forum      
Mann Library Committee, Human Ecology Representative     
Admissions Committee, International Nutrition 
Field of Nutrition Seminar Committee
Search Committee, Assistant/Full Professor in Global Health and Nutrition
Search Committee, Assistant Professor in Nutritional Biochemistry, Metabolism, and Genomics  
Search Committee, Assistant Professor in Public Health and Community Nutrition
Center for Teaching Excellence, Division of Nutritional Sciences Faculty Associate
World Health Organization/PAHO Collaborating Centre on Implementation Research in Nutrition and Global Policy, Division of Nutritional Sciences