Of Egyptian origin, Farhah Assaad was raised in Geneva, Switzerland. She received an International Baccalaureat from the International School of Geneva in 1981 and studied biology at the University of Geneva from 1982 to 1986.
Farhah went to the United States for her graduate studies. She received a Ph.D in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992. After passing her qualifying exams in the field of Genetics, Farhah carried out research in the laboratory of Ethan Signer. She demonstrated that gene silencing (co-suppression) in plants is induced by the presence of repeated sequences (Assaad, FF and ER Signer, 1992. Genetics 132: 553-566.; Assaad, FF, KL Tucker, and ER Signer, 1993. Plant Mol. Biol. 22: 1067-1085).
In between her Ph.D and postdoctoral fellowship, Farhah worked on a soil regeneration Agroforestry project in the Atlantic rainforest of Bahia, Brazil.
In 1993, Farhah received an EMBO fellowship for postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Gerd Jürgens, then at the (LMU) University of Munich. After her postdoctoral fellowship, she stayed on at the Genetics Department of the LMU as a project leader and lecturer. Together with a number of students and in collaboration with Ulrike Mayer and Gerd Jürgens, she characterized a large collection of plant (Arabidopsis) cell division mutants and cloned a vesicle trafficking gene required for cytokinesis (see publications).
Following her stay at the Univeristy of Munich, Farhah spent over four years as a research scientist in the laboratory of Chris Somerville at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford in California. She establsihed close ties with the laboratory of Richard Scheller at Stanford, a founder of the field of membrane traffic. At the Carnegie Institution, she broadened her expertise in the fields of Arabidopsis research, defense, genomics, transcriptional profiling and chemical genetics (see publications).
Farhah has been a project leader in the Botany Department of the Technical Univeristy of Munich, chaired by Erwin Grill, since 2004. She lives in Munich with her husband and two children.