CTSI Profile: Tarun Saxena, PhD

September 20, 2018

Since joining the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) in January 2018, Tarun Saxena, PhD, has enjoyed wearing two hats: project leader with CTSI Accelerator and Program Leader of the Pilot programs. In his role, Tarun works with principal investigators (PI), helps set up study sections, ensures that project applications (Request for Applications) are in place, and reviews their research plans for adherence to rules or stipulations put forward by grant awards.

Due to his previous work as an assistant research professor and PI in Duke’s Biomedical Engineering department, Tarun enjoys getting to be a part of the research process from a new perspective. One of the projects he supports, with Dr. Jonathan Viventi, is developing technology to minimize surgical damage during brain surgery on patients with epilepsy.

“Something that motivates me in my work is being able to help meet unmet clinical needs,” Tarun said. “Universities are a fantastic breeding ground for out-of-the-box ideas that can tackle these needs.”

Another aspect Tarun enjoys is his ability to help PIs and other researchers at Duke navigate the different services available to them. As part of the CTSI Accelerator team, he helped organize the first Drug Discovery Showcase, a symposium designed to highlight the facilities, capabilities, and resources and research at Duke, RTI International, UNC-Chapel Hill, and NC Central University.

“Planning for the Drug Discovery Showcase precipitated very quickly, but we had a dynamic team ready to tackle the challenge,” he said. “Everyone had a lot of visibility, and it was a great opportunity enabled people from Duke and our partners to showcase their resources.”

Outside of work, Tarun spends his time caring for his 13-month-old daughter, and when he can, he loves catching up on tennis and cricket matches. Something that he admires about athletes, and something that has influenced him in his daily life, is the ability to be present in the moment to execute at the highest level.

“I have always allowed myself to follow my curiosity,” Tarun said. “I followed my curiosity to this role, and I work every day to be present in the moment and learn as much as I can. That way, I am able to do the best job I can.”