Dr. Farber received a B.S. in chemistry (1984) from Penn State University and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry (1988) from MIT. 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.

Dr. Farber 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 concluded his service at NCRR as the Director of the Office of Extramural Activities and the Director of the Office of Construction Grants.

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 NIMH Data Archive, co-leading the management of the BRAIN Initiative, co-leading the management of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint, and also overseeing the NIMH small business program.