Get to Know Duke Margolis-NPC Postdoctoral Health Policy Fellow Taruja Karmarkar, PhD

Duke Margolis-NPC Postdoctoral Health Policy Fellow Taruja Karmarkar, PhD, sat down with us to discuss her upcoming research, bridging the gap between academia and health care stakeholders, tips for recent graduates, and more.

The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) has partnered with Duke University’s Robert J. Margolis, MD, Center for Health Policy to create a post-doctoral, two-year fellowship that seeks to bridge the gap between health research and health policy development and analysis.

This fellowship has been awarded to Taruja Karmarkar, PhD, who recently earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Economics and Policy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

NPC sat down with Dr. Karmarkar to get to know her a little better:

  1. Congratulations and welcome to the Duke Margolis-NPC fellowship. What sparked your interest in applying for the fellowship?

    As I concluded my graduate studies, I was looking for an opportunity to bridge the gap that often exists between research conducted in academia and the multiple stakeholders in the health care system whom that research impacts, which aligned perfectly with the fellowship’s mission. The partnership between NPC and Duke-Margolis was also a major draw for me. Teams at both organizations are leading the way in improving our understanding of what it means to have value in health care, and I think this collaboration will help me make a meaningful contribution in this space. 

  2. What are your goals with this fellowship—what do you hope to achieve?
    I want to conduct rigorous health policy research that provides opportunities for improving access to health care services and pharmaceuticals. My portfolio of work will include efforts to better understand our definition of value in health through stakeholder engagement and empirical analyses. I’m excited to use my time as the Duke Margolis-NPC Health Policy Fellow to add to the conversation on the long-term implications of these important topics as we transition to a value-based health care system.

  3. How did you get started in health policy? What prompted you to get involved in health policy as a career?

    I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in the health care field, but I definitely enjoyed the quantitative challenges presented by the economics courses in college. Graduate programs in health economics and health policy provided the ideal combination of the two. I soon began to view the nuances of the health care system through a population health lens, asking, “How can we improve health and health care on a larger scale?” I quickly recognized the potential for health policy to impact the lives of everyone who interacted with the health care system.

  4. What advice do you have for other aspiring health policy graduates?

    The field of health policy is vast and complex with many moving parts that interact to move the health care system forward — it can be intimidating when you first enter the field. I’d encourage recent graduates to embrace these complexities, as they are what make working in this field exciting and challenging. This is how you can determine what issues really motivate you to impact change.

  5. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

    During the summer, I enjoy playing tennis and getting some sun at the beach. I’m always on the hunt for interesting podcasts and I love to escape into the latest fiction best-seller. I like to travel and try new foods — especially in the company of my family and friends.

NPC and Duke-Margolis welcome Dr. Karmarkar and look forward to her future work as the Duke Margolis-NPC Postdoctoral Health Policy Fellow, especially in this exciting and challenging time in the health care world.