Dr. Finley graduated from Harvard College in 1980. He received his PhD from MIT, having worked with Alex Varshavsky and in collaboration with Aaron Ciechanover.
His thesis work, identifying a mammalian cell line expressing a temperature-sensitive ubiquitin activating enzyme, showed unexpectedly that the ubiquitin pathway is the major pathway for selective protein degradation. This work also revealed that the pathway is essential and that it is linked to cell cycle control and the stress response.
He was appointed in 1988 to the faculty at Harvard Medical School, where he remains today, studying proteasome regulation, function, and assembly as well as global proteome remodeling.