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One To Watch | Mar/Apr '14

One to Watch: Marjan Farid, MD

In case there was ever any doubt, the future of ophthalmology is in good hands! Millennial EYE presents a series highlighting the “One to Watch.” In each issue, we will profile a rising star, one who may not be advanced in years but has already made great advances in our field.

Marjan Farid, MD

Marjan Farid, MD

Marjan Farid, MD,is an Associate Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology, the Director of the Cornea, Cataract, and Refractive Surgery Division, and the Vice Chair of Ophthalmic Faculty at the University of California, Irvine.

Thank you for accepting our invitation to be our “One to Watch.” Please share your background with us.

I grew up in Southern California and did all of my training in the sunny state. I went to UCLA and graduated summa cum laude as a biology major. I then went to University of California, San Diego, for medical school and finished my ophthalmology residency and fellowship training at University of California, Irvine. I grew up with a love for science and music, and I play the violin—this was a major part of my youth and early adult life.

What drew you to ophthalmology and, specifically, to your field of interest?

As a high school student, I knew that I would love to work in medicine. After seeing my first ocular surgery (it was a strabismus case), I fell in love! I knew that I wanted to do microsurgery. Seeing the postoperative cataract patients and their enthusiasm and excitement over their newfound vision was what sealed the deal for me. I wanted to bring about this happiness.

Please describe your current position, both clinically and academically.

I am an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California, Irvine. I am the Director of the Cornea, Cataract, and Refractive Surgery Division at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and the Vice Chair of Ophthalmic Faculty. I enjoy my academic practice—it gives me the perfect mix of clinical care, teaching, and research. 

Who are/were your mentors?

I owe my success to my mentor Dr. Roger Steinert. He has been an example to me of how hard work and persistence can shape your career. His care and commitment to teaching has made me who I am today. He is my ophthalmology father!

My other dear friend and mentor is Dr. Ed Holland. He spent many hours dedicated to teaching me about ocular surface disease management.  

To what do you attribute your success? 

I attribute my success to my mentorship, hard work, and dedication. My family’s support and love was also what allowed me to pursue my dream (despite the really long hours!).

What has been the most memorable experience of your career thus far?

Every year brings new challenges and successes. As my career moves forward, I am faced with new obstacles that help me grow as a physician and academic professor. I have enjoyed teaching residents and fellows and “paying it forward.”

What are some new technological advances that you have found particularly exciting? Which advances in the pipeline are you most enthusiastic or curious about?

I have been involved with the femtosecond laser technology since its inception. The founders of the femtosecond laser platform for opthalmic use, namely Drs. Ron Kurtz and Tibor Juhasz, are on the faculty at my institution, and, therefore, our department was one of the first to have our own femtosecond laser for corneal surgery. As such, we have become one of the leading sites of femtosecond laser corneal transplant surgery. 

What is the focus of some of your research?

The focus of my research includes femtosecond laser transplants, severe ocular surface disease, corneal collagen crosslinking, and dry eye.

What is a typical day in your life? What keeps you busy, fulfilled, and passionate?

A typical day involves the clinic and surgery. I am blessed to have a corneal fellow with me at all times who I enjoy teaching and helps me get through a busy day. I serve on multiple academic committees and am the Associate Medical Director for SightLife eye bank. I also serve as an editorial board member for Ophthalmology. All of these commitments keep my day full and busy. When I go home, I enjoy being a mother to my three kids: twin 5-years-old girls and a 3.5-year-old son.

What advice can you offer to individuals who are just now choosing their career paths after finishing residency or fellowship?

Stay focused. Make sure that you truly enjoy what you do—that is what keeps me going through the day. If it feels burdensome, then you are not in the right field.