Steven Farber

Steven Farber

Director, CMDB Graduate Program;
Professor, Department of Biology
253 Levi Hall
Group/Lab Website

Research Interests: Real-time imaging of lipid metabolism in live zebrafish; cell and molecular biology of lipids; identification of genes which regulate digestive organ lipid metabolism using biochemical and genetic strategies

Steven Farber is a professor of biology whose research primarily exploits the unique properties of zebrafish larvae to explore the cell and molecular biology of lipids. He received an Electrical Engineering degree from Rutgers University, M.S. degree from MIT in Technology and Policy and a PhD from MIT in Molecular Neurobiology. His PhD work explored the balance between neurotransmitter and membrane phospholipid synthesis in cholinergic brain regions. His postdoctoral training was in the lab of Marnie Halpern at the Carnegie Institution where he learned the power of the zebrafish system and pioneered its use for studies of lipid biology. Dr. Farber’s laboratory is internationally recognized for its use of zebrafish to study lipid biology in live cells and organs. The optical clarity of zebrafish larvae allow virtually every cell, tissue and organ to be visualized in the living animal without dissection. One overarching goal of the Farber lab is to develop the tools needed to study the cell biology of lipids in the context of intact tissues and organs with the level of detail previously only possible in cultured cells or yeast. The lab is currently performing both genetic and small molecule forward screens to enhance our understanding of lipoprotein and lipid cell biology.

In 2002, Farber started a Science Outreach Program ( that utilizes zebrafish to promote science literacy and teach genetics and the experimental process. Its mission is to foster an enthusiasm for science, promote interest for future science careers, and provide opportunities to learn through a hands-on, student-centered approach. One goal of the program is to instill a love for science and science education to all students and teachers regardless of community, income or race. The effort was highlighted in the New York Times in 2008. By these efforts Farber hopes to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities in science. In 2022, BioEYES reached over 165,000 children worldwide. For this effort Dr. Farber was the 2020 recipient of the ASCB Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education.

Fat and cholesterol molecules, also known as lipids, are of the utmost importance to proper cell function, required for cells to produce potent signaling molecules, membrane components, and fuel. Given their necessity, it's not surprising that defects in lipid metabolism underlie many prevalent human diseases—including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. The Farber Lab seeks to better understand the cell and molecular biology of lipids within digestive organs by exploiting the many unique attributes of zebrafish larvae.

Postdoctoral Associates

Eric Young
McKenna Feltes
Daniel Kelpsch
Meredith Wilson

Graduate Students

Catherine Brown
Joshua Derrick
Darby Kozan
Michelle Biederman
Tabea Moll

Laboratory Coordinator

Cecilia Ramirez

Research Scientists & Technicians

Mackenzie Klemek
Monica Hensley

Undergraduate Students

Lucille Ebner
Kobe Koren
Adrian Rivera
Vivian Truong