Etsemaye Agonafer, MD, MPH, MS

Etsemaye Agonafer, MD, MPH

Internal Medicine

MD  UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine-Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science PRIME Medical Education Program, Los Angeles, CA
Residency – Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh. PA

Biography: Dr. Etsemaye P. Agonafer, an internal medicine physician, is committed to improving the health and well-being of vulnerable individuals and populations— including Veterans, the homeless, and incarcerated adults— through multifaceted partnerships. Her research during fellowship focused on policy-relevant, stakeholder engaged investigations of healthcare innovations that address social determinants of health through cross-sector partnerships aimed at improving health outcomes and reducing costs.   

As a scholar, Dr. Agonafer conducted partnered research, continued to teach her social determinants of health curriculum to medical students and residents, obtained training in value-based healthcare, and completed a policy elective.  She also obtained a Master of Science in Health Policy and Management with an emphasis on Implementation Science.  

Her main project is “Whole Person Care-Los Angeles (WPC-LA): Perspectives of Community Based Organizations to Improve the Integration of Health and Social Services Partnerships,” with mentors Dr. Arleen Brown (UCLA) and Dr. Clemens Hong (DHS).   WPC-LA is the largest Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver pilot in California implemented in the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to deliver coordinated services to high-risk Medicaid populations.  Dr. Agonafer’s study obtained perspectives from 65 individuals employed at 35 community-based organizations across Los Angeles County through a mix-methods approach, including a pre-interview survey and semi-structured interviews.  Dr. Agonafer presented these findings at the UCLA GIM Shapiro Symposium, 2019 National NCSP Meeting, the Academy Health Dissemination and Implementation conference, and virtually at the annual Society of General Internal Medicine conference.  Additionally, she mentored a first-year PRIME-LA medical student funded by the UCLA CTSI on a spin-off of her study that focused on community based organizations’ process of delivering services to homeless populations using mixed methods including photovoice; this project was selected for the oral plenary and awarded best abstract at the California-Hawaii Regional SGIM meeting.  

Dr. Agonafer also led “Communities for Wellness Equity (C4WE),” in partnership with Healthy African American Families (HAAF-II) and mentors Felica Jones (HAAF-II), Andrea Jones (HAAF-II), Dr. Ken Wells (UCLA) and Dr. Anish Mahajan (DHS).  The project was an academic-community partnership to build a coalition of South Los Angeles residents and stakeholder organizations, clinicians, and researchers to identify community’s priority issues and implement community-driven solutions.  The initial conference was funded by a UCLA CTSI Catalyst Award and was matched by the UCLA NCSP.  Moreover, she continued to build on her “Veteran Human Library” with partners at the VA Homeless-PACT clinic and created a blog about her clinical experience at the Los Angeles County Twin Towers Correctional Facility (  

Throughout fellowship, Dr. Agonafer, volunteered her time to teach UCLA internal medicine residents, PRIME-LA and CDU medical students the social determinants of health curriculum that she developed and evaluated at UPMC.  She also continued to participate in the PRIME-LA selection committee. In January 2019, Dr. Agonafer completed the Harvard Business School intensive seminar in Value-Based Health Care.  Later that year, she completed a policy elective at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services/Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMS/CMMI).  At CMMI, she worked with the Prevention and Population Health Group on the Accountable Health Communities Model and provided analysis and recommendations about policies related to screening for social determinants of health in the clinical settings, connecting patients with social resources in the community, and perspectives of community-based organizations about health care delivery and social service integration.   

Following fellowship, Dr. Agonafer served with the President’s Commission on White House Fellows during 2021-2022 and currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Health Systems Science at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.