The overarching goal of Dr. Anubha Agarwal’s NIH/Fogarty Global Health Fellowship year was to answer the question: How can we improve heart failure care in South India? She worked in the state of Kerala, where her first step was to conduct a systematic review of existing heart failure intervention programs. While many improvement programs existed, all had been studied and refined in high-income countries, making it a challenge to understand how they might work in low-income settings. Agarwal and her colleagues then took that data and conducted qualitative interviews with physicians, nurses, patients, and pharmacists, asking them what they think needed to be done to improve heart failure care. From there, they designed their quality improvement intervention and tested it amongst 1,400 heart patients in Kerala over six months. 

Using her Fogarty data, Agarwal applied for and was awarded a Pathway to Independence grant from the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute. With this grant, she and her team will work again in Kerala evaluating a polypill that combines four different classes of medications into one pill for patients with heart failure. Her mentors on this related project are a direct extension of her Fogarty experience. 

“I have progressed significantly since my Fogarty year due to phenomenal mentorship,” said Agarwal. “Now, when I think about my leadership priorities, mentorship is at the forefront.”

Agarwal is as an assistant professor and co-director of the global cardiovascular health program at Washington University. She spends about a quarter of her time working with patients; the rest is spent on research related to her project in Kerala.