Sunday, March 31, 2013

April Fools Day or Opening Day Celebration?

Tomorrow is April 1st. So what does that mean to you?

For some it is 'a fool's day' of jokes and trickery. For others, they will associate it as the National's opening day celebrating a new baseball season with (if you believe the predictions of ESPN and Sports Illustrated) high hopes for a World Series season.

For me, it is back to work day after a week off with my family (and thanks to Karen for being a guest blogger in my absence!). If you are like me, getting back into the routine takes a day or two - yesterday was a day of travel, laundry and food shopping. Today is plowing through emails and getting ready to return to the routine.
Upon my return to the area, I was struck how many tulips have come out and trees are starting to bloom in just one week.  I love this time of year and the 'new beginning' it  brings.  I hope everyone had a happy Easter and Passover and look forward to getting into the spring spirit together.


P.S.  Oh, you want to know what we did for vacation.... well, at the recommendation of my son and his friends, we spent the week in Florida going to different spring training games (and a trip to LegoLand and to Harry Potter at Universal between games). My parents, who live in Florida, joined us for some of it but they were smart enough not to try to keep up! Here is a picture at the Red Sox's new Jet Blue Stadium near Fort Myers.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Taking Time Away From Work is Important!

By: Guest Blogger Karen Wade, assistant vice president, Human Resources

Some of you may know that Neil is on vacation this week and in his absence, I’m guest blogging. Seeing as Neil has taken paid time off (PTO), I thought it appropriate to write more about the importance of taking time away from work.

Each year, as benefits-eligible associates, we’re all given a specific amount of time to take away from work for personal and family matters. Don’t forget, it’s also beneficial to our health and well being that we escape work sometimes.

By taking time away from work, we give ourselves a chance to relax and recharge. And when we recharge, we’re ready to take on work when it’s time to be back. It makes us more efficient, less stressed and calmer to take on complicated projects.

Next summer, my husband and I would like to take one of my dream vacations and stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas. Our daughter graduates from the eighth grade and we’ll be celebrating this achievement. Planning time off for a vacation like this will be exciting and something for me and my family to look forward to!

So, whether it’s a beach vacation or a “staycation,” make sure to plan time for yourself, your family and friends.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Katie Confusion?

You may have noticed that in the past few months, two new “Katie’s” have come on board at the Research Institute, and they happen to work together!

I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight and clear up the “Katie confusion.”

Katie Carlin (Katie C)- Director of Research Development, Planning and Communications. Katie C leads the team, which includes Michele Lee Clements, research planning; Rachel Shaperow, research writer-editor; and Katie Kuehn, communications and marketing. Katie C is responsible for developing and enhancing MedStar's research infrastructure, fostering system-wide collaborations among investigators, developing partnerships with external third party organizations, and creating strategic plans to help enhance MedStar's diverse and robust research programs.

Katie Kuehn (Katie K or Katie Squared)- Communications and Marketing Manager. Katie K is a part of the Research Development, Planning and Communications team that Katie C oversees. Katie K is responsible for all marketing and communications for the Research Institute—internal/associate communications (such as the monthly eNewsletter FOCUS), marketing, advertising, media relations, social media (like setting up and monitoring this blog), StarPort and the website.

Still confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Luckily, you can always email and you will be able to reach both Katie’s.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What is CTTI and AIAMC?

Any idea what CTTI or AIAMC stands for? Yea, I didn't either before I became the president of MHRI. Well, these are two national organizations in which MedStar plays an important role.

CTTI  is the Clinical Trial Transformation Initiative. This private/public venture was established several years ago by the FDA and Duke Clinical Research Institute. The overall goal of the organization is to increase the quality and efficiency of clinical trials in the United States. CTTI now comprises more than 60 organizations from across the clinical trial enterprise. I am proud to serve on the steering committee. We had our bi-annual meeting on Tuesday this week and addressed many things relevant to our organization such as study start up, central IRB's, recruitment and retention of study subjects, study monitoring and the role of patient advocacy groups.  More information about CTTI at: If anyone is interested in getting involved in one of their projects listed on the website, please let me know.

AIAMC is the Alliance of Independent Medical Centers. As the name suggests, it is an organization of major academic medical centers and health systems committed to quality patient care, medical education and research. Leaders from MedStar helped found this organization about 20 years ago and I currently chair the research forum on behalf of MedStar. Today the Research Forum and the Executive Management Forum had a joint session (picture) about how a healthcare system can become a 'learning health care system' and the advantages it brings - a learning system allows research to influence practice and practice to influence research. More information about AIAMC at:

While these organizations may only be of modest interest to some, I do think it is important that you know that the MedStar name is out there (in a very positive light), at these national organizations that revolve around clinical research and academics. 
Teaching Scholar alumni from MedStar's GUH, Good Sam, Harbor and Union Memorial hospitals present posters with their residents at the AIAMC's National Initiative 3 'Poster Slam' event.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mindfulness and Date Night

Have you ever been in a situation where two things, that happen in two different parts of your life, come together? Well that happened to me yesterday.

I attended a great Research Grand Rounds on the health benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention and 'being in the present' as opposed to mentally being in the future or the past. It was a fascinating lecture that describes how the mind and body act enconcert both for the patient and for the patient-doctor relationship.

Now skip forward six hours. I am sitting with my wife, talking over a glass of wine at a restaurant while on our Friday night date night. Yes, that is right; my wife and I have a standing Friday night date (as long as I am not on travel nor when we have other obligations). It is great.

She said something about enjoying Friday nights because it allows us to just be with each other and have each others undivided attention and all of a sudden it hit me. This is mindfulness. I was living in the moment and was fully there with her. My mind was not thinking about the difficult week I had or what we had to get done this weekend. I was just enjoying the moment.

Thanks to Dr. Mary Ann Dutton, professor of psychiatry at Georgetown, for introducing me to the concept of mindfulness and allowing me to recognize the enjoyment of being in the present. You never know what you will learn at Grand Rounds or how the knowledge will be applied in your life! 

Multidisciplinary Research Grand Rounds occur the 3rd Friday of every month and I try to go whenever possible.  It is open to everyone and the vast majority of attendees are not physicians or PhD's.  Its a great place to meet others at MHRI over lunch (noon-12:30) before the lecture.  I attached the schedule so you too can enjoy a chance to learn about something new each month. (at this time, it is at MWHC but will soon be web-broadcasted live).

Mindfulness - give it a few moments thought.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

MedStar-Georgetown Scientific Advisory Board

In September 2012, scientific leaders from Georgetown and MedStar held an off-site investigators’ retreat to explore how to increase cross-campus clinical research collaborations.  Part of the solutions included reducing barriers for investigators and providing additional support.  A list (a long list!) of ideas were generated with a responsible person and timeline.  The group also decided to continue working together as the newly formed GU-MedStar Scientific Advisory Board and meet quarterly.  This afternoon, we met at MedStar NRH where we had updates on the list including: PARTNER grant results and next round, new clinical data sharing, new clinical trial master agreement, development of a searchable repository of data about all investigators across both organizations and more.  We also talked about new ways to facilitate collaboration with interactive web-based sessions.  Lots of things accomplished, lots more to do, lots of energy and clear momentum forward! 

I am deeply appreciative to all the participants - including the cynical Dr. Umans sitting in the back corner who admitted, he even reads this blog!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Big Hand of MHRI

Check this out - I am famous!!  Well, at least my hand is....

Yup, that is my hand.  Believe it or not, I got my hand photographed for this poster.

It was so weird and funny to walk into the break room today at UTC and see my hand blown up that large.  I immediately thought about the old Seinfeld episode where George Costanza was a hand model!  I also learned that the tip of my finger is a little bent to the left - who knew!

Anyway, just a funny experience I am sharing. 

On a more important note, I do want you to know we are serious about the  'Powered by You' campaign to encourage everyone to fill out an associate survey.  It is simple and takes 10-15 minutes. I make a personal pledge to read every written comment, so that we can use the information collected to make this a better place to work.  The link is:


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

2nd Annual MedStar Research Symposium

I want to thank the more than 100 investigators who presented posters yesterday and the more than 300 attendees. We had representation from every aspect of our academic health care system, including Ken Samet, our system CEO and President, virtually all of the corporate executive team and the majority of our hospital presidents and VPMA's! It was a wonderful celebration of how we create knowledge through research and advance health everyday at MedStar! Please share your experience at the symposium by posting a comment.