Practice blends tradition, innovation

May 1, 2005

Patricia K. Farris, M.D., likes the mix that dermatology offers: traditional clinical work, new-fangled cosmetic options and marketing opportunities for services and products.

Today, her practice in Old Metairie, La., is a perfect blend between medical-surgical and cosmetic dermatology.

"I am one of those people who still loves to be challenged by a really complex medical dermatologic problem, but I also do surgery as well as a lot of cosmetic work," Dr. Farris says. "I just love going from room to room and having the diversity that dermatology allows. I like doing Botox but I still love the challenge of a difficult rash."

After raising three daughters in Old Metairie, Dr. Farris bought a condominium in the French Quarter. It is part of a restored former produce warehouse for the French Market, turned into something of a Soho loft.

"I have always loved the French Quarter - it is really the heart of the city," Dr. Farris says.

It, too, is a blend of old world and contemporary.

"It is a contemporary living space in this really old, historic building," she says.

Dr. Farris's balcony, on which she does her beloved gardening, overlooks the French Market. She witnesses New Orleans life 24-7.

"The produce guys start out there at four in the morning, bidding on produce and what they are going to sell. It is an interesting world. I see the seasons through it, too. For instance, the watermelon comes in summer and the pumpkins in fall," she says.

A self-proclaimed urbanite, Dr. Farris says New Orleans is like a big, small town.

"New Orleans is a city you can really get your arms around. It has a very rich culture. The food is great. The music is great. I love music. I grew up with music. I can walk from my condo in any direction and hit one of the most famous jazz clubs in the city," she says.

Raised culturally aware Dr. Farris gives credit for her love of culture and esthetics to her Greek heritage.

She grew up in Chicago and was raised with the Mediterranean country's traditions by her father, Nick Kokoshis, and non-Greek mother, Dorothy.

Her mother was a nurse and her father was a grocer, who successfully built the business to a chain of stores. Dr. Farris' grandfather was a Greek religious painter, who immigrated to the U.S. from Cephalonia, a Greek island near Corfu. The grandfather's appreciation for art translated later to his granddaughter being drawn to the esthetic side of medicine, Dr. Farris says.

While she worked as a youngster in the family business, Dr. Farris dreamed of becoming a doctor.

"I was always a science kid. My cousin and I used to talk about growing up and being doctors, and we eventually did that," Dr. Farris says.

A researcher, first Dr. Farris first went in the direction of becoming a researcher.

As a graduate student in physiology at Tulane in immunological research, Dr. Farris' first paper, on which she was lead author, was published in the prestigious Science magazine. The topic? Using a nonspecific immunostimulant that comes from yeast, called beta glucan, in the treatment of a variety of animal tumor models.

Despite her early success as a researcher, she hankered for medicine, which she thought would combine her skills in pure bench research with her love for people.