Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Monthly MCCRC Staff Meeting

I had the pleasure of attending the monthly MedStar Community Clinical Research Center (MCCRC) staff meeting this week. While I was invited because there was a recent change in principal investigator, I also wanted to answer questions about the day-to-day issues at MCCRC.  What I was not expecting was for people to ask me how I ended up in research and at MedStar.

While that sorry is too long for this blog, I enjoyed sharing it - my travels as a clinician, an educator, an investigator and now in administration. Since MCCRC does outpatient research, one highlight in my career that seemed to resonate with the group was my wild 'ride' when I got involved in a diet pill study (20 years ago!) that went from first patient enrolled to New England Journal of Medicine in just one year! 

Becky K. Montalvo, Executive Director of MCCRC, brings together her associates from Baltimore, UTC and Capital Hill each month to not only share administrative updates with her team, but also to bring in another MHRI associates to share how they developed into their current role. It’s a great view of professional development from the ground up. Thanks for the invite and it was great to share!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Confronting challenges together

Below is my monthly message for the September 2017 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Friends and Colleagues,

Confronting challenges together…

Even as the sun came out today and we enjoy our Labor Day weekend, a piece of us remains with those struggling with unimaginable challenges.

Our hearts go out to those in Texas struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Seeing the devastating images on the news are so tragic, that at times they seem beyond belief. As a society with 24/7 news feeds of everything that happens in the world, we are at risk of becoming desensitized to tragedy. However, it only takes one ‘touch’ to bring it back home and remind us just how real it is.

This past week, I was ‘touched’ by two very different tragedies – Hurricane Harvey and terrorism in Barcelona.

One of many photos from the NY Times
As this past week progressed, we realized that the impact of Harvey was mounting. Families lost their houses, their belongings, their pets and in some cases, their loved ones. It is heartbreaking and the impact becomes very real when you know someone personally affected. During the week, I was in contact with many of my cardiology friends and colleagues from Houston. One colleague was at the same international conference as me and was desperately trying to get in contact his family while trying to figure out how to get back home. One of MHRI’s Board of Directors shared how he feared for his family’s safety as he urgently evacuated his house. Luckily, all my friends are safe and in a dry place, but none are in their homes and their lives will be very different for the foreseeable future.

While the effects of the storm are terrible, the response from individuals and our broader community has been incredible. I am so proud how one colleague is buying a suit for someone’s son in Houston who lost everything so that he can go back to work. I am also so proud that, at the direction of Ken Samet and on behalf of our more than 30,000 associates, MedStar made a significant donation to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief. If we look beyond our own system, the scientific community across the nation is also stepping up to lend a hand. It is truly gratifying to see the outpouring of support among those at MedStar and the research community, aiding institutions and residents impacted by the floods.

I mentioned my friend from Houston I saw at the largest international cardiology conference last week–well, that conference was in Barcelona! These conferences are planned several years ahead and there we were, in the European city where one week ago there was a terrible terror attack. On the day I arrived, I saw a sea of impromptu memorials (flowers, candles and stuffed animals as far as the eye could see) and a march of over 500,000 people with the King of Spain. The theme of the rally was No Tinc Por which means I’m Not Afraid. People from across Europe came together to help the people of Barcelona put life back on track after this unimaginable catastrophe.

Image from El Rotativo
Life is full of challenges. It is during these very unfortunate, extreme ‘challenges’ that we see the unparalleled strength of coming together. We do it out of necessity. We do it out of humanity. We do it because it empowers us to make a difference in the lives of others. Coming together is remarkably strong.  We need to harness that strength more often and harness that strength without waiting to be motivated by a disaster.

As we enter the fall, I look forward to coming together, advancing health and making a difference in the lives of others with you.


Read Focus at

Monday, August 21, 2017

View the Eclipse

It was a gathering in the parking lot today at UTC for the eclipse. While not everyone had their own pair of glasses, everyone was willing to share.

A few intrepid associates (Andrew Carter & Amy Criputi of Contracts & Grants) made some viewers out of office boxes and scavenged tin foil.

Associates were out at MedStar Washington Hospital Center too!

The best photo of the eclipse came from Katie Carlin, Director of Research Development, Planning and Communications!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

3 Weiss-men's

Earlier this summer, I posted a short piece with summer greetings and received many comments and requests to see more family pictures.

Well, a few weeks ago my son and I went to Florida to visit my parents so we decided to take this picture of the 3 generations of male Weissmans (with a 70 year span).  It was a great visits (and my Mom, a regular reader of this blog!) says this is a nice picture so here it is.....

Hope you all are having a good summer and enjoy the last few weeks with family and friends.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Indivumed Partnership Expands MHRI's Reach of Research

Collaboration takes many forms. Team members collaborate within a department and departments work together across MedStar.  These collaborations help us forward our vision to advance health for our patients today and tomorrow.

I was pleased to announce last week that MHRI formed a new collaboration with Indivumed, a Germany-based oncology company that helps us conduct research that individualize anti-cancer medical therapies through state-of-the-art bio-specimen collection, preservation and analysis.

This new agreement brings this state-of-the-art bio-specimen partnership to all MedStar hospitals so it can be applied for all cancer patients and their tumors.  We had some very productive kick-off organizational meetings with oncology, surgery and pathology leaders from across the system.

The full press release can be read here. Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of Georgetown Lombardi and Director of MedStar’s integrated cancer network, also posted about this great partnership on his blog.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lose the Wait

According to a recent study, more than half of patients enjoyed virtual visits than in person visits to their doctor's office. The survey study, run by Health Industry Distributor Association, found that 53% of respondants would consider using telemedicine, with 18% having already used it. 41% of respondents in the survey enjoyed the convience of a virtual vists and 54% reported that they thought it was better than an office visit.

MedStar Health launched their option for virtual vists, MedStar eVisit, in 2016. From first hand reviews, I've heard great things about this program. While I haven’t yet personally use MedStar eVisit myself, I’ve heard many positive things from our associates. It’s great to know that even if we are traveling away from our community, we are able to take care of our health. I got the email below and enjoyed the play on words and wanted to share it with you.

Lose the Wait: Use MedStar eVisit Today

Being sick shouldn’t be about waiting—it should be about getting the care you need, when and where you need it. Skip waiting: for an appointment, in traffic, in the waiting room, in the exam room, and at the pharmacy. With MedStar eVisit, you can be seen for common illnesses within five minutes, from the comfort of your own home, and your prescriptions are sent to your preferred pharmacy electronically so you can feel better, faster.

Receive fast care for common illnesses anytime, anywhere with MedStar eVisit. To enroll in and/or use MedStar eVisit, download the free iOS or Android mobile app, “MedStar eVisit” or visit Complete the steps within the mobile app and/or web.

Have you tried MedStar eVisit?  We want to hear about your experience! Please complete the survey sent following your visit, and send feedback to

Monday, August 7, 2017

Selfless Giving

Below is my monthly message for the August 2017 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
Friends and Colleagues,
Did you know that:
  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood?
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.?
  • A single car accident can result in the need for as many as 100 pints of blood? 
Imagine what would happen if no one gave blood. We have a health care system that is dependent on the selfless gifts from millions of people each year.
And blood is not the only selfless gift medicine is dependent on. In a recent survey of over 1000 Americans, 75% felt that taking part in a clinical trial is as valuable to our health care system as giving blood. An overwhelming majority of Americans (86%!) also agree that health care professionals should discuss clinical trials with patients as part of their standard of care. Standard of care – that is a strong statement! Traditionally, clinical research was viewed as something for only those at elite academic hospitals or only for patients with severe illnesses but what this recent study says is that the majority of Americans want access to and information on clinical trials on a routine basis.
The study also explored the factors that determine if someone chooses to participate in a clinical trial. Not surprisingly, the most important factor is if they are asked by someone they trust (74%). Nearly two-thirds (64%) say a doctor or health care provider is the most reliable source for the clinical trial information but, the sad part, is that only 18% said they or someone in their family has ever been asked to participate.
And here is the part that struck me the most – when asked about the factors important to you in participating in a clinical trial, 87% felt it was an opportunity to improve the health of others - A truly selfless act.
At MedStar Health, we are in an ideal situation to respond by connecting our patients to  research. We sit at the crossroads of academics and real world medicine and we have built an infrastructure to bring research into a diverse set of clinical environments. This fall, we will be incorporating research into our electronic health records (Cerner’s PowerTrials) to further enhance communication and collaboration between the clinical and research teams and thus empower every clinician with access to trials across MedStar Health.
MedStar is committed to providing the care our patients need and the care that they want. Thank you for being part of our commitment to advancing health and I hope you are enjoying this beautiful summer weekend.
Read Focus at