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Home > Global Health Fellows & Scholars at 20 > Paying it forward: Fogarty Fellows & Scholars at 20 Print

Fellows & Scholars at 20: Paying it forward

May/June 2023 | Volume 22 Number 3

Alumni and NIH moderators sit at a table on the stage of the Natcher Center at NIH. Photo credit: Fogarty International CenterThe closing panel of the Fogarty Global Health Fellows & Scholars/LAUNCH 20th Anniversary event on April 13, 2023 at NIH's Natcher Center. The panel was titled "Then and Now: A Discussion with Later-Career Alumni."

By Judy Coan-Stevens

To mark the 20th Anniversary of its flagship Global Health Fellows and Scholars program, now known as LAUNCH, Fogarty hosted a commemorative event on the NIH campus and a retrospective panel at the 2023 CUGH conference in April. At both presentations, the former fellows & scholars emphasized the importance of mentorship to the LAUNCH program and how the connections they made in their “Fogarty year” have sustained them through their career journeys.

The commemoration kicked off with a half-day event on the main NIH campus, that featured a keynote by former Fogarty Director Dr. Roger Glass, two panels of alumni co-moderated by NIH leaders, and concluding thoughts and remarks of both Dr. Sten Vermund of the Yale School of Public Health and Acting Fogarty Director Dr. Peter Kilmarx.

Dr. Leonardo Cubillo, director of the Center for Global Mental Health Research at NIMH, and Dr. George A. Mensah, director of the Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science at NHLBI, co-moderated the first panel, "Then and Now: Moving Beyond Early Career," featuring recent alumni. Dr. Walter Koroshetz, director of NINDS and Dr. Satish Gopal, director of the Center for Global Health at NCI, co-moderated the second panel featuring fellows and scholars who trained in the program before 2016.

Eight more program alumni were featured on a panel at CUGH 2023 moderated by Dr. Roger Glass. The panel also included the presentation of a recent program review led by Fogarty’s Celia Wolfman Katz. This survey made clear that "mentorship is the backbone of this program." Nearly 90% of respondents stated that their mentors played a significant role in their career trajectory. Alumni panelists at both events described the impact mentors had during their time with the program and beyond. 

Dr. Anubha Agarwal, a 2017 fellow and assistant professor and co-director of the Program in Global Cardiovascular Health at Washington University, noted that because of the support from her Fogarty mentorship team, “The leap from the Fogarty fellowship to a career development award was very contiguous."

Dr. Roxanna Garcia, a 2019 neurology fellow who is currently an assistant professor at Northwestern University, reiterated the need to sustain relationships to continue receiving support. It's what 2021 nursing fellow Ivan Segawa called “lifelong mentorship" — taking mentorship beyond the “transactional" phase that's often limited to one project or fellowship.

Dr. Nauzley Abedini, a 2012 scholar, said, “I think one of the key factors in the evolution of my career was having mentors from the very beginning who have been dedicated to my professional growth." But sometimes you need to differentiate between a “project manager" and a “mentor," suggested Dr. Richard van Zyl-Smit, a South African pulmonologist and 2009 fellow: “the project manager is there to get the project done, and the mentor is there to look after you."

Alumni sit at a table on the stage during a session at the CUGH 2023 conference Photo credit: Fogarty International CenterRockefeller Oteng, Clinical Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan (middle) speaks during the "Fogarty Global Health Fellows & Scholars Program at 20" panel at CUGH 2023.

Many alumni are now mentors themselves, including moderator Dr. Satish Gopal, a 2012 Fellow, who went on to mentor many subsequent cohorts of Fogarty fellows. 2015 fellow Dr. Christine Sekaggya-Wiltshire of Uganda has mentored dozens of Fogarty fellows since her training, building a network in part through her mentees. “You don't necessarily need to be a cardiologist to be able to mentor someone doing work in cardiology. The research skills that you get from a program like Fogarty enables you to mentor anyone in any field."

Dr. Weiming Tang, 2015-16 fellow, called mentorship a form of paying it forward. “We learn so many things from our gracious mentors like leadership, research, and writing skills. When we become an established researcher, we want to pay these things forward by mentoring the next generation." 

Updated June 14, 2023

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