UCSF Children’s Hospital Surgeon-in-Chief Diana Farmer, MD, will be inducted as a fellow into the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCSE) on January 20—becoming only the second US female surgeon to be bestowed this prestigious honor.
“It gives me great pleasure to inform [you] that at a meeting of Council…, you were elected unanimously a fellow of this College,” said RCSE President John Black in a letter to Farmer. “I offer my sincere congratulations on this high honor.”
The world’s first female fetal surgeon, Farmer is currently the principal investigator of a multicenter National Institutes of Health trial for the treatment of spina bifida in the womb. Previously, her laboratory showed that the primary brain injury associated with spina bifida (the Chiari II malformation) was the result of leaking spinal fluid.
Farmer’s research interests include fetal therapy interventions for myelomeningocele (spina bifida) and other birth defects. She is internationally recognized for her expertise in complex surgical repair of thoracic, airway, and intestinal anomalies as well as for cancer surgery in neonatal, pediatric, and adolescent patients.
In addition, Farmer is an integral member of the Fetal Treatment Center team, skilled in the surgical care of fetal patients with life-threatening congenital anomalies. In particular, she spearheads the research to evaluate the safety and efficacy of in utero endoscopic repair of spina bifida, and is co-investigator on a number of fetal surgical clinical trials.
In 1988, Farmer joined the faculty at UCSF, where she is currently Professor and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery and Vice-Chair of the Department of Surgery.
Farmer’s UCSF honors include Honorary Membership in The Gold-Headed Cane Society, the Outstanding Women Faculty Chancellor’s Recognition Award and the Department of Surgery’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Her career also includes being on faculty at the National University of Singapore as a Luce Scholar, and the Director of the Department of Surgery’s international collaboration with Makerere University in Uganda.
After receiving her BA degree in marine and molecular biology from Wellesley College, Farmer spent years conducting research at the Bermuda Biological Stations, the Stanford University Hopkins Marine Lab in California, and the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. She graduated from the University of Washington, Seattle with her MD degree and completed her general surgery training at UCSF and her pediatric surgery fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
She lives in Marin County with her husband, Charles B. Cauldwell, MD, PhD, a professor of anesthesia and perioperative care at UCSF.
With its origins dating back to the union of the Fellowship of Surgeons and the Company of Barbers by Henry VIII in 1540, the Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care.
Diana Farmer: Seasoned Surgeon
UCSF Magazine, June 2003