Dr. Farber has a B.S. from Penn State University in chemistry (1984) and a Ph.D. from MIT in physical chemistry (1988). Dr. Farber’s research in graduate school involved determining the three dimensional structure and mechanism of the enzyme xylose isomerase in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory A. Petsko. After graduate school, Dr. Farber received a Life Sciences Research Fellowship to work on mechanistic enzymology with Dr. W. W. Cleland at the University of Wisconsin. Following his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Farber returned to Penn State as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and rose to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure by 1998. His research included work on structural movies of enzyme action, molecular evolution, and mechanistic enzymology.
Following a sabbatical year in the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the National Science Foundation, Dr. Farber decided to stay in government service. He moved to the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), part of NIH, in 2000. At NCRR, he managed a number centers and individual investigator awards in technology development and bioinformatics, as well as a cohort of interdisciplinary research centers.
Dr. Farber then became the Director of the Office of Extramural Activities at NCRR. The Office of Extramural Activities oversees the Office of Grants Management and the Office of Review. Dr. Farber also served as the Director of the Office of Construction Grants. That Office managed $1B in construction awards made using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
In June 2011, Dr. Farber became the Director of the Office of Technology Development and Coordination at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). That office is responsible for coordinating all technology development and bioinformatics activities at NIMH, overseeing the National Database for Autism Research and other NIMH data repositories, managing the NIMH Common Data Element effort, managing the Human Connectome project, managing the BRAIN Initiative for NIMH, and also overseeing the NIMH Small Business program.