Richard H. Finnell, PhD

Portrait of Richard H. Finnell, PhD

Richard H. Finnell, PhD



Richard H. Finnell is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Dell Medical School. He is board certified in medical genetics by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics. He has a distinguished career researching environmentally induced birth defects. Dr. Finnell holds the title of Changjiang Scholar Professor in the Collaborative Center for Innovation in Genomics and Development at Fudan University, Shanghai, PRC and is an adjunct professor at Shanghai Institute for Medical Genetics, East China Normal University and Peking University School of Medicine.

Research Interests
Dr. Finnell's research examines the interaction between specific genes and environmental toxins as they influence normal embryonic development. While his primary research focuses on discovering the role of folic acid in the prevention of birth defects, his laboratory is also working to identify the gene or genes that determine susceptibility to human neural tube defects (NTDs) and to develop innovative translational interventions that can correct the defects in utero. Dr. Finnell is studying teratogenic agents, both pharmaceutical compounds and those found in the environment, that contribute to the population burden of birth defects.

Research in Dr. Finnell’s laboratory focuses on the interaction between specific genes and nutritional factors as they influence normal embryonic development. The laboratory is primarily engaged in understanding the beneficial effects of women taking a multivitamin containing the B vitamin folic acid. We want to know how it protects developing babies from having birth defects, and why it is not effective in some pregnancies.  In additional to performing population based human molecular epidemiology studies, the Finnell Laboratory uses the latest in gene editing technology such as CRISPR Cas9 to eliminate the function of genes to create novel mouse models of human diseases.