Carla Finkielstein, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, received the university's 2015 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence.

With support from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions by Virginia Tech faculty members who have extended the university's outreach mission throughout the commonwealth, the nation, and the world. Recipients are nominated by their peers, receive a $2,000 cash prize, and are inducted into the university's Academy of Outreach Excellence.

Finkielstein, who has an active teaching and research program, is a passionate advocate for breast cancer awareness and research. She works to raise awareness of screening and treatment options available, believing that public awareness promotes effective change and that the most-effective way to ensure the eradication of breast cancer is to fully integrate the topic into society.

Her advocacy work has included the support of state and federal bills that champion early breast cancer screening for women younger than 40. She has with worked with other advocacy groups to speak to legislators during the National Breast Cancer Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., and to the General Assembly in Richmond, Virginia, to inform representatives on the issues that are important to patients, caregivers, survivors, and the broader community.

For the past three years, Finkielstein has co-organized Pretty in Pink, a fundraising event that brings merchants, residents, and breast cancer survivors from Blacksburg together to collect funds to defray the cost of mammograms for uninsured women.

She co-organized an interdisciplinary research night with graduate students, breast cancer survivors, and university faculty to brainstorm alternative strategies to reach out to women from rural areas of Southwest Virginia who are reluctant to undergo breast cancer screenings.

These efforts resulted in the Mobil Momm program, in which area physician and nurse volunteers along with breast cancer scientists and survivors visited rural communities to educate residents about the need for regular mammograms and to offer the service at no cost.

Finkielstein is developing a program with the Brock Hugues Free Clinic in Wytheville, Virginia, to expand the Mobile Momm program into that community.

Finkielstein brings male and female survivors to campus each year for a series of lectures in breast cancer, and she has given public lectures in surrounding communities, including Salem, Roanoke, Christiansburg, Pulaski, and Giles and Floyd counties.

In all of her advocacy work, Finkielstein engages her students to help them understand how important it is that they become active members of their communities.

A member of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Finkielstein leads a research program that has been funded by a $1 million National Science Foundation CAREER award, as well as grants from the Avon Foundation, the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the American Heart Association.

She has co-authored 39 peer-reviewed manuscripts, many on topics related to her interest in understanding the molecular basis of breast cancer. She has also co-authored three book chapters and is a co-inventor on three patents.

Finkielstein has hosted 24 national and international high school students and more than 100 undergraduate students in her laboratory. In addition, she has mentored nine graduate students, two medical students, and four postdoctoral fellows.

In addition to teaching core courses to undergraduate students, Finkielstein teaches in the new translational biology, medicine, and health graduate program. She is developing Virginia Tech’s first course in nanomedicine for the College of Science’s new nanoscience undergraduate degree program.

A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 2005, Finkielstein received her bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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