Diana Farmer

2013 Alumnae Achievement Awards

Diana Farmer Alumnae Achievement Awards - Wellesley College Alumnae AssociationDiana Farmer ’77
Pediatric-Fetal Surgeon, Teacher, Mentor

Diana Farmer ’77 is the world’s first female fetal surgeon.  She has made important contributions to the fields of fetal and neonatal surgery, with expertise in the surgical repair of life-threatening congenital anomalies.  Recently, she led a landmark study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of fetal surgery to treat spina bifida, and is researching stem cell therapy for the repair of damaged neural tissue in spina bifida patients.

Farmer is the second American woman ever to be inducted as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.  (The Royal College was founded in 1540 during the reign of King Henry VIII.)  In 2011, she was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, one of the highest honors in medicine in the U.S.

Currently, Farmer is chair and Pearl Stamps Stewart Professor of the Department of Surgery at the University of California at Davis Health System.  Additionally, she is surgeon-in-chief of the UC-Davis Children's Hospital.  Before becoming chair at UC-Davis, she was chief of pediatric surgery, vice chair of surgery, and professor of surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics-gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco, and surgeon-in-chief of the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. 

Farmer has received numerous awards for teaching and service, including the 2009 Golden-Headed Cane Award (faculty teaching award at UCSF) and the 2011 Holly Smith Award for Exceptional Service.  In addition, she was a member of the faculty at the National University of Singapore as a Luce Scholar, and served as Director of UCSF's international collaboration with Makerere University in Uganda.  A dedicated mentor to many, Farmer has guided the professional development of pediatric surgeons and has also provided career advice to disadvantaged high school girls through the Girls, Inc. program.

Farmer was a marine and molecular biology major at Wellesley and completed her medical degree at the University of Washington in Seattle.