Monday, February 8, 2016

Lunch and Learn at UTC

One of the great things about research and a research institute is that we embrace learning and creating a learning environment. It is in this setting that MHRI associates at our University Town Center office suggested (and created) a “lunch and learn” opportunity.  Last week was the first session led by Patricia Evans, from the Office of Financial Management, and the hot topic of the day was how to use Excel more effectively, such as pivot table, along with other tips and tricks.
It was a full house, with associates from across departments there to learn. Some came with skills, others had never heard of pivot tables. It was great to showcase the skills of one of our associates to help others.

With the large amount of data that is available to us throughout our research institute, and from other researchers around the nation, having a new way to look at this data which can enhance our research productivity and efficiency.

It was great to see associates come together and learn from each other - it show the depth of knowledge within our organization and the generosity of our associates to share it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hungry Harvest Featured on Shark Tank!

Shark Tank is a favorite at my home - its fun to learn about these new company ideas and entertaining to see the 'sharks' interact with the entrepreneur trying to pitch their idea. Just recently, it was particularly enjoyable because one of the featured companies was Hungry Harvest.

Hungry Harvest has a mission to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to more people. They take produce that may not be 'perfect' and therefore not sold at a retail store and offers delivery directly to your home or office at a reasonable price. The great thing about their company is that they also practice a 1-for-1 system, so for each box of produce that is purchased and delivered, it donates an equal amount to a food bank.

Photo of Hungry Harvest on Shark Tank,
from their Facebook page.
This is special because MHRI was one of Hungry Harvest’s first customers – that’s right, every week the company delivers bags of produce to our associates who sign up for the service. It’s a great way to practice wellness, while also giving back to the commuity!

What is more, this homegrown company is full of employees from the area. The CEO and co-founder, Evan Lutz is a graduate of University of Maryland and son of an MHRI associate!

And in case you were wondering….Evan did great on the show and walked away with an investment from shark, Robert Herjavec!

Learn more about Hungry Harvest as

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Finn: 6 Months Equals 60 Pounds

Ever since I posted about my family getting a puppy ('Finn Has Arrived') in August, many of you have sent me well wishes and asked how he is doing.  For those that did not see that post, Finn is an English Cream retriever (a variety of a Golden Retriever but lighter in color).

So, FInn is doing great - he is a wonderful dog, instantly becomes a loving companion to everyone he meets and is growing faster than you can imagine. On his recent visit to the vet, he weighed 63 pounds!  If you do the math, that means he has been gaining a pound every 2-3 days!  Hopefully he will start to slow down and settle at a final weight of about 85-90 pounds, similar to his parents.

Here is the picture I posted in August and a recent picture we took last month with my son for our holiday cards:

Here is my wife's favorite she keeps as the homepage on her phone

And if you like those pictures, you will love this video (my son's favorite). In this video, my son is teaching Finn how to catch a treat and he recorded it in slow motion:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016



Of course not, you are reading Notes from Neil!

But if you were, you might be interested to know that boredom is the topic in an article in the latest publication of Nature.  Scientists find a link between tendencies to boredom and several things like traumatic brain injury and learning ability.

If you are not sure where you might fall on the boredome scale, there is actually a quiz to test yourself at:  Why Boredom is Anything but Boring

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Top 10 Medical Research Issues and Trends to Watch in 2016

There’s no doubt that it’s an exciting and transformative time in healthcare, and the same is true for medical research! Recently, the Huffington Post Blog released a piece on  the “Top 10 Medical Research Issues and Trends to Watch in 2016.” I invite you to read the quick article here.  

What makes the list? Patient engagement and methods for collecting and applying the “patient perspective” will be significant. Precision Medicine will also be making news headlines in 2016. The state of the academic workforce is in flux, and experts believe that this might be the year when young investigators break out and we see some serious experimentation at academic institutions with "the way we've always done things.” Finally, with the news of Mark Zuckerberg donating 99 percent of his Facebook shares, currently valued at $45 billion, to charity – the spotlight will shine bright on philanthropy and medical research!

I enjoyed reading the list and found myself proud of the work we continue to do at MedStar Health and the progress we are making  across many of the 2016 trends listed! At MedStar, we are capitalizing on being an Academic Health System at the cross-roads of real-life healthcare and a strong academic infrastructure to address so many of the things listed in this article.

Friday, January 8, 2016

MedStar to Design, Develop and Test Guide for Improving Patient Safety

It's always rewarding to see MHRI researchers informing policy and serving as subject matter experts at the national level. Recently, a team of MedStar Health researchers received an award from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to design, develop, pilot, and disseminate a guide for improving patient safety in primary care settings by engaging patients and families in their care.

Research suggests that while there have been significant advancements in hospital-based patient and family involvement in patient safety, the role of patient and family engagement in primary care- based settings lags behind. The project team, led by MedStar’s experienced investigators, Kelly Smith, PhD, and Christine Goeschel, ScD, MPA, MPS, RN, FAAN, and patient and family investigator Martin Hatlie, JD will build a robust, scalable, and influential guide for patients and families for the primary care setting.

Congrats to all for bringing the community voice into national quality and safety initiatives!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What to do about W-2s?

Does it seem like everything is going virtual these days? 

Last week I wrote about the "Research Lab of the Future" - a clever image created by Jose Rodriguez-Weisson of his colleagues in the Cardiovascular Core Lab. Just as the core lab went virtual so are W-2s! That's right, W-2 forms are now available electronically and we're encouraging MedStar associates to take advantage of this great opportunity to have your W-2 readily accessible.

This Friday, January 8th is the deadline to provide your consent if you wish to receive your W-2 electronically. Need a reason to Opt In to Electronic W-2 Delivery? Here are Five:
  1. Have peace of mind: No need to worry that your document has been lost or sent to the wrong address. You will receive an email as soon as your W-2/W-2c is available in PeopleSoft to view, download, save, and/or print.
  2. Eliminate clutter: Don’t worry about losing your W-2/W-2c in a pile of papers before you file your taxes. Stay organized by downloading, saving and referencing your W-2/W-2c at your own convenience.
  3. Keep a record: Your W-2/W-2cs are at your fingertips on PeopleSoft, should you need to reference them for any reason.
  4. Go green: To reduce your usage of paper and ink (and your environmental footprint), you can store copies of your W-2/W-2cs on your computer, on a zip drive, or in a secure cloud.
  5.  Get it fast: You will be emailed a notification the moment your W-2/W-2c has been posted in PeopleSoft, instead of waiting for your mail to be delivered.
W-2: Why wait? The Payroll Team encourages you to log on to PeopleSoft now at to opt in to electronic delivery.