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Farias-Eisner named new director of Hereditary Cancer Center

Robin Farias-EisnerRobin Farias-Eisner, MD, PhD, has a lot to reflect on in his professional life.

A medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin; a PhD in molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles; patents, papers and patients’ lives saved.

In July, Farias-Eisner, formerly the chief of gynecologic oncology and vice chair of administration in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA, joins Creighton University as the new director of the Hereditary Cancer Center in the School of Medicine.

“I like the Jesuit, faith-based philosophy. It’s commensurate with my own philosophy of helping those in need,” Farias-Eisner says. “Creighton is a wonderful opportunity to take those philosophies and mission and vision of the University to national and international preeminence through new drug development, high-quality patient care, cutting-edge research, high-quality education, community engagement and development.”

In addition to heading the Hereditary Cancer Center, Farias-Eisner will serve as the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and associate dean for women’s health at Creighton. He will also be starting a new gynecologic oncology program, says Robert “Bo” Dunlay, MD’81, dean of the medical school.

“The values that he’s demonstrated in his personal and professional life make him a great fit for a leadership position at the Creighton University School of Medicine,” Dunlay says. “He has excellent leadership skills that he’s honed through years of service at UCLA. He’s also a well-known physician scientist with an active lab.”

Born in France while his father was working as an electrical engineer for the U.S. military in the aftermath of World War II, Farias-Eisner relocated with his family to Southern California at a young age. After high school, he attended UCLA and received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.

Farias-Eisner returned to Europe for medical school, earning his MD at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. From there, he spent his residency in emergency medicine with a focus on critical care at the University of Illinois/University of Chicago.

Early in his career, Farias-Eisner found himself drawn to women’s medicine, particularly cancer cases in which patients were critically ill. This led him to pursue surgical oncology, and after his residency, Farias-Eisner accepted a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at his alma mater, UCLA.

“(Women’s health) was an area that was underrepresented, perhaps. It was an area of surgery and science in which a need existed for high-quality academic excellence,” Farias-Eisner says. “I felt that I could contribute in a large way.”

After his fellowship, Farias-Eisner remained at UCLA as a professor and began pursuing his research interests. Through the university’s STAR (Specialty Training in Advanced Research) program, he earned a PhD in molecular biology and eventually started his own laboratory specializing in women’s cancer research.

Through his lab work, Farias-Eisner discovered new genetic markers for ovarian cancer, which proved to be extremely accurate in distinguishing between benign and malignant ovarian cysts. Other research has focused on developing new pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of ovarian cancer and other diseases.

At Creighton’s Hereditary Cancer Center, Farias-Eisner succeeds founder Henry Lynch, MD, who died in June.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to take the work of Jane and Henry Lynch further,” Farias-Eisner says. “I think that there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity in the School of Medicine. The department of obstetrics and gynecology, and the Hereditary Cancer Center are outstanding academic institutions. There’s amazing talent that exists in each one of these components of the School of Medicine, and I feel that my role will be to enhance and contribute to the growth of those outstanding enterprises.”

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