Born: January 24, 1951 in Delhi, to Dr. Shatendra Kumar, a private practicing physician and Dr. Veerbala, then a house wife but later a professor of Sanskrit in Vivekanand College of Delhi University.
Education & Career: Prof. Saxena completed B.Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry from Delhi University in 1970. He topped the university and was awarded the prestigious Prof. T.R. Sheshadri award in 1970. He also received the National Science Talent Scholarship Award that continued throughout his studies from B.Sc. to Ph.D. He did M.Sc. (1973) and later Ph.D. (1976) from the Biochemistry Department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. In 1978, he proceeded to the National Institutes of Health, Maryland, USA for post-doctoral training in the field of Immunology, and returned to India in 1985 to join the School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi as an Associate Professor. In 1991 he was appointed full professor in JNU and in 2000 became the Dean of the School of Life Sciences, JNU. In July 2002, Prof. Saxena was appointed Rector (Pro-Vice Chancellor) of JNU and served on this position for three years. Professor Saxena has visited many universities and research institutions in USA as a visiting professor. Currently he is a visiting professor at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research facilities at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina (Sept. 2005 to Sept 2007).
Research: Prof. Saxena has worked in the general area of Immunology with special interest in the activation of Natural Killer lymphocytes, lung immunity to tuberculosis infection and influence of air borne pollutants on the immune system. He has received a large number of national and international research grants and has published more than 120 research papers in professional journals. He has also trained more than a dozen Ph.D. students. He heads an active group of researchers at JNU and his research contributions are recognized internationally. He has been honored with the Fellowships of all three major National Science Academies of the country (Indian National Science Academy, Bangalore; Indian Academy of Science, Bangalore and National Academy of Science, Allahabad). He has also received two times the Senior Fellowship Awards from the US National Research Council.
Contribution to Literature: Prof. Saxena was born into a literary tradition. His mother Dr. Veerbala was a writer / poetess and his maternal uncle (Mama Ji) was the renowned Hindi poet and writer Dr. Dharamvir Bharati. Prof. Saxena has done a complete verse-to-verse translation of Geeta into metered Hindi verses. This work has been published by Pustak Mahal (2002) as a book entitled Geeta Kavya Madhuri. Prof Saxena has since then kept writing poems as well as articles in Hindi that have been published (see a list of his literary output).
Family: Professor Saxena is married to Dr. Queen Baba Saxena, originally from Kathmandu, who is also a scientist. They have two children Gaurav (born 1977) and Garima (born 1981). Garima Saxena is a professional media artist and animator and some of her illustrations have been used in this website.