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Richard Alan Finkelstein, PhD, Honored for Excellence in Immunology

Dr. Finkelstein was presented with the Robert Koch Prize in 1976

COLUMBIA, Mo., Feb. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Richard Alan Finkelstein, PhD, is a distinguished biographee of Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are chosen from among a pool of the most prominent professionals and are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

Having entered a well-deserved retirement in 2000, Dr. Finkelstein is an accomplished microbiology educator, researcher, consultant and professor emeritus of the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri. Initially serving at the aforementioned university as a professor and the chair of the department of microbiology in 1979, he was instrumental in revitalizing the struggling microbiology department, which under his leadership became the department of molecular microbiology and immunology by the time he departed from the position in 1993. During his tenure, Dr. Finkelstein was also designated as a Millsap distinguished professor from 1985 to 2000 and a curators' professor from 1990 to 2000.

Prior to his exemplary efforts at the University of Missouri, Dr. Finkelstein worked at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as an associate professor and as a professor from 1967 to 1969. Previously he was a fellow and an instructor between 1955 and 1958. Between 1958 and 1967, he completed service with the United States Army Reserves Medical Service Corps, where he attained the rank of major in 1966. During this time, he further flourished as the chief of the bioassay section at the Water Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C. from 1958 to 1964, and as the deputy chief and the chief of the department of bacteriology and mycology with the United States Army Medical Component at the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization Medical Research Laboratory in Bangkok from 1964 to 1967. Dr. Finkelstein began his career as a teaching fellow and research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin from 1950 to 1955.

Discovering his interest in microbiology while enrolled at the Bronx High School of Science, Dr. Finkelstein graduated at the age of 16 before enrolling at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 1950. Continuing his studies at the University of Texas at Austin, he was mentored by Dr. Charles Lankford, with whom he had worked on his master's thesis on salmonella. Obtaining his master's degree in 1952, he conducted doctoral research on cholera, which directly resulted in the next 50 years of Dr. Finkelstein's research. Dr. Finkelstein concluded his academic efforts with a Doctor of Philosophy in 1955.

Alongside his primary responsibilities, Dr. Finkelstein has excelled as a consultant for the World Health Organization since 1970, having been involved with Wyeth, LLC, now a part of Pfizer, since 1992 and Molecular Pharmaceuticals since 1993. He has previously found success with Amgen Inc., the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the Schwartz-Mann Laboratories and the United States Army Medical Research and Material Command. Over the years, he has been active as a visiting teacher and researcher as well, providing his expertise to the Ministry of Science and Technology, in Taipei, Taiwan, the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago, the Science Council of Japan, the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and the University of Medical Sciences in Bangkok.

A fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Dr. Finkelstein has held numerous leadership roles with the American Society for Microbiology, including as the president from 1989 to 1991. He has also maintained professional affiliation with the American Association of Immunologists, Inc., the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Society for General Microbiology, the Pathological Society of Great Britain & Ireland and Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society. As a result of his decades of research, Dr. Finkelstein has published over 240 articles on cholera, enterotoxins, gonorrhea and the role of iron in host-parasite interaction in professional journals.

Among his great scientific achievements, Dr. Finkelstein is notable for conducting the first purification of the cholera enterotoxin as well as discovering the coli toxin that causes diarrhea and conducting the first purification of the heat-labile enterotoxin from Escherichia coli. He also holds a patent for a live attenuated candidate cholera vaccine. Furthermore, Dr. Finkelstein distributed his purified toxin for free to any other researchers who were interested in studying it, greatly increasing the amount of research on cholera as well as the role of iron in host-parasite interactions and bacterial metabolism.

Presented with a Distinguished Service Award from the American Society of Microbiology in 1996, Dr. Finkelstein has also accepted the Sigma Xi Research Award and the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Faculty Research in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri in 1986 and 1985, respectively. The highlight of his career came in 1976, when he was honored for his work on cholera with the Robert Koch Prize from the Koch Foundation in Germany. He was also nominated for a Nobel Prize in 1976, alongside Dr. Bob Phillips, who was responsible for discovering the treatment for cholera. Unfortunately, Dr. Phillips died before the prize could be awarded and they don't give the prize post-mortem. The other nominee, Dr. Mike Field used Dr. Finkelstein's purified cholera enterotoxin to show that it activated a host enzyme which actually caused the diarrhea of cholera.

Over the years, Dr. Finkelstein's key collaborator in research was his second wife, Mary Boesman, PhD, who was an accomplished biochemist. Working together for 30 years, she was a co-author of many of his publications until her demise in 2007. Today, he takes great enjoyment in watching the development of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as his former graduate students and post docs. Dr. Finkelstein would advise young and aspiring professionals to become aware of what other people are doing in the field and to do something original.            


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SOURCE Marquis Who's Who