Carla Finkielstein

Carla Finkielstein, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science

Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine

Biologists have for years done remarkable and tireless work to understand how cancer develops and progresses, and they’ve used that information to develop new therapies and increase the efficacy of current ones. However, it has not been enough to cure cancer. Carla Finkielstein advocates branching out to other disciplines and tackle this problem, and her Integrated Cellular Responses Laboratory is taking that multidisciplinary direction. The lab’s work focuses on tumor biology and the relationship between circadian clocks and cancer biology.

The resistance of tumor cells to chemotherapeutic drugs and radiotherapy represents a major obstacle in anti-cancer therapy. Finkielstein’s research aims to precisely define why some tumors fail to respond to radiotherapy in the first place, and how to interfere with this resistance so that more effective treatment can be developed. Her initial work challenged the long-standing conventional view increasing exposure doses while remaining below a threshold of causing significant increase in cell death is more effective. Her lab’s research challenges the current dogma of dose-dependent eradication of tumors with radiation and establishes a new paradigm, based on a parallel with the photoelectric effect, that the photon energy provides the true threshold for induction of apoptosis in biological systems.

Finkielstein’s laboratory also investigates some of the basic mechanisms that regulate cell cycle transitions, the contribution of environmental cues to ensure timely progression throughout it, and how both cycles are interlocked at the molecular level. The lab focuses on the role of circadian clock proteins as important internal factors that contribute to cancer development and progression, exploring the means by which loss of circadian function impairs the effectiveness of ionizing radiation.

For a more complete listing of Carla Finkielstein's publications, visit Google Scholar.

Education and Training

  • University of Buenos Aires: Ph.D. , Molecular Biology
  • University of Buenos Aires: B.B.S. , Molecular Biology

Previous Positions

  • Virginia Tech
    Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
  • University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
    Postdoctral Fellow, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine
  • University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
    Research Associate, Department of Pharmacology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Awards and Honors

  • J. Shelton Horsley Research Award, Virginia Academy of Science (2019)
  • Mitzi L. Frank Memorial Endowed Fund (2018)
  • Mary Louise Olds Andrews Cancer Award, Virginia Academy of Science (2017)
  • College of Science Dean’s Discovery Fund Award, Virginia Tech (2017)
  • Molecular Biology Society of Japan, Best Research Work (2016)

Selected Publications

JingJing Liu, Xianlin Zou, Tetsuya Gotoh, Anne M. Brown, Liang Jiang, Esther L. Wisdom, Jae Kyoung Kim and Carla V. Finkielstein. (2018). Distinct control of PERIOD2 degradation and circadian rhythms by the oncoprotein and ubiquitin ligase MDM2. Science Signaling 11(556).

Tetsuya Gotoh, Jae Kyoung Kim, Jingjing Liu, Marian Vila-Caballer, Philip E. Stauffer, John J. Tyson, and Carla V. Finkielstein. (2016). Model-driven experimental approach reveals the complex regulatory distribution of p53 by the circadian factor Period 2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(47).

Julia M. Selfridge, Tetsuya Gotoh, Samuel Schiffhauer, JingJing Liu, Philip E. Stauffer, Andrew Li, Daniel G. S. Capelluto, and Carla V. Finkielstein. (2016). Chronotherapy: Intuitive, Sound, Founded…But Not Broadly Applied. Drugs 76: 1507–1521.

Related Links

The Finkielstein Lab