Saurabh Agrawal, MD


Hope and hepatology: Saurabh Agrawal, MD
By Trent Batchelor, FMA Staff Writer

For Saurabh Agrawal, MD, board-certified gastroenterologist and transplant hepatology specialist, the decision to specialize in liver transplant hepatology was one of hope for patients. He currently serves as the Medical Director of Tampa General Hospital’s HPB and Liver Tumor Program and oversees Tampa General Hospital’s Tumor Board, and he is an affiliate assistant professor for the department of internal medicine at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.

Hope in Transplant Hepatology

Inspired by his sister, who is also a physician, Dr. Agrawal graduated from the Federal University of Paraiba, School of Medicine in Campina Grande, Brazil, in 2001. He first became interested in the hepatology field during his internship,

“I was in my internship at Yale University School of Medicine, and I had a mentor who specialized in hepatology, which is my specialty now,” said Dr. Agrawal. “He taught me a lot about liver disease and liver transplant. This was the start of my interest in liver disease.”

Dr. Agrawal’s passion for transplant hepatology is further fueled by his belief that his specialty, which is relatively new in medicine, offers hope to his patients.

“I think the fact that we can give hope to patients is what attracted me to this specialty. Patients can reset their health condition and start fresh again.”

Awareness and Accessibility

Dr. Agrawal believes it is important to be involved in organized medicine and notes that there has been a lot of change over the years. One of the primary reasons for involvement is his concern for his patients and their access to care, which is a prevalent issue in Florida and across the U.S.

“A very simple example is the fact that not everyone has access to transplants. Not everyone has access to care,” he said.

This eventually led him to become a member of the Florida Medical Association (FMA) in 2017 upon his relocation to Florida, along with his wife, Upma Suneja, MD, a pediatric physician. Dr. Agrawal summed up the greatest benefit of his FMA membership in a couple of words: awareness and accessibility. Having had experience with other state medical associations, he didn’t believe that those organizations provided the same level of exciting opportunities for physicians.

“I think the fact that we can give hope to patients is what attracted me to this specialty. Patients can reset their health condition and start fresh again.”

“I think since I moved to Florida and I came to know the FMA and became a member, I've been aware of all these amazing things that the FMA does in supporting and fighting for Florida physicians, which is extremely important,” Dr. Agrawal stated. “For example, there are many issues, which are important to physicians, that the FMA takes to Tallahassee and to Washington. It's very humbling to be aware of the FMA’s advocacy for physicians. You guys are always ready to help us. You're very accessible so this is, for me, very unique.”

In recognition of his dedication to improving care for liver cancer patients in the Tampa Bay area, Dr. Agrawal received the FMA’s Certificate of Appreciation in 2022.

Aspire and Inspire

Dr. Agrawal is currently participating in the 2024 Karl M. Altenburger, MD Physician Leadership Academy, the FMA’s intensive, 10-month premier professional development program. The purpose of the Academy is to help physician leaders develop specific non-clinical skills they need to be effective advocates for the medical profession and their patients. His decision to participate was greatly influenced by Dr. Suneja, who graduated from the program in 2023.

“I saw her changing the way she practiced medicine and interacts with her peers since she went through the Academy program.”

On a professional level, Dr. Agrawal sees leadership skills playing a major role in his area of expertise, which he considers a shared practice by definition.

“It requires a lot of leadership,” he said. “Participation in the Academy has been helping me by giving me the skills I need to be in the setting that I am.”

For him, the program is meant to inspire, aspire, and make sure that everyone moves in the same direction towards their leadership goals.

Dr. Agrawal also shared that one of his most enlightening realizations, in regard to his participation in the Academy, is that he is not alone as a physician. He noted that his other colleagues in the Academy experience similar issues.

“It's very interesting when you think that is an issue that is only happening to you, and you go to the Academy, and you realize that is something that happens everywhere.”

Personally Speaking

Dr. Agrawal is father to five-year-old Prisha and three-year-old Sid. Family comes first in the order of priority, and he takes every opportunity to spend the day enjoying time with them. Both being physicians, he and his wife work hard to balance their professional lives with their family life. While very demanding to say the least, he believes it is working.

“It’s challenging, but I think we have evolved,” said Dr. Agrawal. “We came to the conclusion that we want to prioritize the family, so we are trying to balance everything. But it’s absolutely very challenging.”

When the duties of physician and father are not pulling him in all directions, Dr. Agrawal’s pastimes include his love for soccer, both playing and watching, and his passion for the study and mastery of languages. His diverse background and experiences contribute to his fluency in English, Hindi, Portuguese, and Spanish. What’s next on the list? Dr. Agrawal is current working on mastering Italian. Bocca fortuna e auguri (Good luck and well wishes) Dr. Agrawal!