Before accepting his position as Canada Excellence Research Chair in Neurogenetics and Translational Neuroscience at UBC, Farrer was a professor of molecular neuroscience and director of the Division of Neurogenetics, several neurogenetics laboratories, and the Transgenic Core Facility, at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Farrer was named a Mayo Clinic Distinguished Investigator in 2008—the clinic's highest award for research excellence—for his outstanding contributions to neurogenetics and translational neuroscience.
Farrer is currently cited as having made some of the greatest contributions to Parkinson's disease research in the past decade. Genetic discoveries from his group—subsequent model and assay development—provide the foundation for new and effective therapies that promise symptomatic benefit by halting disease progression. Farrer also holds the Dr. Donald Rix British Columbia Leadership Chair in Genetic Medicine, supported through the province of British Columbia, Life Labs and Genome BC.
Farrer received his PhD in human genetics from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, Imperial College London, UK, and has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from King's College London, UK. He was also a postdoctoral fellow in medical and community genetics at St. Mark's National Health Service Trust, Harrow, UK.