Associate Professor of Pathology, Trinity College Dublin
Dr. Stephen Finn is a Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator, a St. Luke’s Young Investigator, co-director of the Cancer Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at St. James’s Hospital, an associate professor of pathology at the University of Dublin, Trinity College, and a member of the steering Committee of the Transdisciplinary Prostate Cancer Partnership (ToPCaP). Dr. Finn qualified from University College, Cork (UCC) in 1998, completed his higher professional training in Dublin in 2005 and subsequently worked as staff pathologist and Senior Scientist at the Centre for Molecular Oncologic Pathology (CMOP) at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Despite all of his accolades, Dr. Finn comes from a family with no background in medicine; he and his sister, now a pediatrician, were the first to venture into the medical field. After a brief stint as a dentist and then a surgeon, Dr. Finn discovered his interests lay elsewhere. He moved on to pathology and found it was where he belonged. “I really loved pathology and investigating cause of disease and learning more about disease,” says Finn.
From there, his career moved forward. “The big change for me was the opportunity to go to the Dana-Farber when I went to work with Massimo … I really saw what was coming in terms of diagnostics and research for the future.” While at the Farber, Dr. Finn became committed to continuing to do research and grew a particular interest in prostate cancer. However, the opportunity really didn’t arise until three years later to do what he really wanted to do: molecular pathology, both diagnostic and research.
Now, what motivates Dr. Finn is the idea of personalized medicine and personalized cancer therapy. “I’m interested in optimizing therapy for the individual patient … There’s very little happening in prostate cancer for that, and that is where my focus has been.” Enthusiastically, he says, “what really gets me going is predicting how to treat a patient appropriately to prevent them having side effects … I’d like to discover is how to treat a patient best at any one time in a way that’s best for that patient.”
When asked what, in an ideal world, he would be doing twenty years down the road, Dr. Finn says he’d like to continue with is research. “I really love what I do. And if you’ve met anybody who knows me, they’ll tell you how enthusiastic I am about my work. I would like to be doing a very similar job, perhaps with more influence in my own society, in Ireland.” Beyond that, Dr. Finn has a vision for a state-of-the-art predictive cancer process and testing center in Ireland. “If, in ten years time, we could have a state-of-the-art cancer therapy program here based on very good testing, I would feel that we have achieved something, and that’s what I have campaigned for.
Jennifer Rider, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, really epitomizes why Dr. Finn is our featured researcher, saying, “Stephen is an invaluable resource for an epidemiologist interested in biomarkers and really exemplifies the spirit and enthusiasm of the TopCap collaboration.”