Mark F. Ferber, 55, a political scientist and expert on congressional affairs whose career in government and education ranged from medical research to questions of privacy in a high-tech society, died of cancer April 5 at his home in Berkeley, Calif.
Dr. Ferber spent much of his professional life in Washington. While a graduate student at UCLA, he came here for a year of study as a congressional fellow and remained to direct the congressional fellows program for the American Political Science Association.
He then went to work for the University of California system as its representative to Congress. As such, he was the first university representative to be assigned fulltime to Capitol Hill.
After riots swept Washington in the wake of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Dr. Ferber returned to California to work in programs for minorities in the university system. He later was a vice president and professor of political science at the University of Santa Clara.
In the early 1970s, he came back to Washington as director of the division of educational affairs for the American Political Science Association. He worked briefly as administrative assistant to Sen. Charles McC. Mathias (R-Md.). In 1974, he joined the staff of the President's Biomedical Research Panel, which reviewed federal support for cancer research and similar projects.
In 1975, he was appointed assistant director of the President's Privacy Study Commission. The commission published an extensive report on the way computer technology can be used to collect facts about private lives that really are private matters, such as banking and shopping habits or voting records. The commission's work was a factor in the passage of the federal Privacy Act.
In 1977, when the privacy commission was disbanded, Dr. Ferber was named the congressional affairs adviser to the Census Bureau for the 1980 census. He held that post until he retired for reasons of health in 1983 and returned to California.
Dr. Ferber was born in Oakland, Calif. He received bachelor's and master's degrees and a doctorate in political science from UCLA. He served in the Army during the Korean War.
Survivors include his wife, Vann, and two sons, John and Peter, all of Berkeley, and a sister, Kay Slavkin of Los Angeles.