Sunday, September 29, 2013

Being there for the community we serve

As everyone well knows, Washington experienced a terrible event two weeks ago with the shooting at the Navy Yard. During the week following the shooting, both the local DC and national news was filled with stories about gun control, mental healthcare reform and the government's role. This week, the news has moved on to a potential government shutdown.

Today, I was reminded about how much pride we have to be in a profession and associated with an organization which is there for our community in its time of need. In picking up my son from a friend's house, the parents commented about MedStar's response. I also came across this great picture today on Twitter @MedStarWHC of Vice President Biden visiting the MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted

The MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) Board of Directors met last week at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital.  We covered topics of strategic importance, had a presentation by an investigator (Alex Dromerick, M.D.) and a tour of the hospital.  Upon the meetings' conclusion, we were treated to a copy of a book written by one of our Board members. This was a special treat to know an author of a popular book and to hear directly from him about the topic.

 Tevi Troy is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute is the rare presidential historian who has also served as a high-level White House aide. He is the former deputy secretary of Health and Human Services and an expert on healthcare policy. He brings this level of expertise to the MHRI Board from which we all benefit.

Tevi has written about presidential history before but this book will undoubtedly catch the attention of a broad audience, even people like myself who do not typically read history books for fun; I really enjoyed this one.  As the catchy title states, this book describes how pop culture influences the White House.  I think the quote on the back of the book by Karl Rove sums it up nicely: "Tevi Troy has written a fast-paced, surprising, and shall I say it, very entertaining look at how presidents have affected the culture, how the culture has affected them, and the nature of the presidency itself. A fun and illuminating read."

Enjoy the read and perhaps it is time for me to go out and get a Twitter account!?!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Time to "Sprint Four the Cure!"

By Guest Blogger Becky Montalvo, Executive Director, Oncology Research

Since 2001, cancer research at the Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center has benefited from a wonderful partnership with The Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC through its annual Andrea Kauffman Sprint Four the Cure. This year, it’s being held on Saturday, September 21. Registration begins at 7 a.m. and runners and walkers begin at 8 and 8:10 a.m. respectively.

New this year for our more serious runners will be a chipped (individually timed) 5K along the Potomac Parkway.  There will still be plenty of folks who prefer to walk as well, so all are welcome.

To register, visit It’s $50 to register ahead of time; ($55 Walk-in Fee) and the run/walk includes breakfast tasting by Georgetown restaurants, t-shirt and a free raffle ticket to win one of 20 door prizes.

There are many wonderful stories of patients who enrolled to clinical trials conducted at Washington Cancer Institute that have been supported by the Four Seasons Hotel’s donations.  Their partnership has been a dynamic and enjoyable experience, but most importantly, has facilitated research that would otherwise not have been possible. 

Please consider joining us for this year’s event where 100% of the proceeds will benefit the research program at Washington Cancer Institute. Great food & camaraderie, and maybe you’ll even win a door prize.

See you there!

MHRI's Sprint Four the Cure team last year!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Transparency of Clinical Trial Data and CTTI

As a member of CTTI (Clinical Trial Transformation Initiative), I took part in a meeting this morning that discussed the transparency of clinical trial data.  CTTI is leading the way to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical trials in the United States and address timely issues (to learn more about CTTI, see my prior post or check out the CTTI website at I am proud that MedStar Health Research Institute is on the steering committee for this organization.

This morning's meeting started off with a panel discuss on the new European rules to make patient level data available to the public for all commercially sponsored studies and whether we should do the same in the US. On the panel were representatives from the FDA (Janet Woodcock), the European Medicines Agency (EMA is the FDA equivalent in Europe), PhRMA (representing industry) and patient advocacy groups.

In the US, we now have a requirement to post (through information about every human subject clinical trial along with overall results.  In Europe, they are taking it to another level (more information is available on the EMA website) with patient level data (de-identified for confidentiality) so all trial results are publicly available. This could potentially happen even before the drug/device gets approved or the study is published. This is a very interesting development that has policy, regulatory, commercial and ethical implications for the sponsor, study site, investigator and patient.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Europe and what happens in the United States.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Georgetown MedStar Investigators' Retreat

I am writing tonight from the historic Aspen Institute Wye River Conference Center on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. This was orginally the home of William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the 3rd governor of Maryland. This is also the location of the Wye River Memorandum negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Authority in 1998.

Today (Sunday) it is the site of the second annual retreat of investigators and leaders from across Georgetown University and MedStar Health.  A year ago we came together for a retreat for the first time and have continued to work together (as an active Scientific Advisory Board) to identify areas of opportunity and collaboration. Last year we also identified a long list of things that are needed to make it easier to collaborate and when we 'ran that list' today, we were pleased with the progress we have made (but certainly recognized there are many more things we want to do).  One particular highlight from the last year was the Partnership Grants - an idea generated at the last retreat and implemented successfully to generate several new collaborations.

Today, we took advantage of the great weather and took it outside!  In the attached picture, small groups are discussing how we can 'accelerate our future success' together.  I very much look forward to hearing the 'report outs' from these groups tomorrow morning!  Stay tuned and I encourage all 35 investigators who took part today to share their perspective, suggestions and findings we us all!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Let's Get Active!

This summer, I posted about the FitBit® pedometer and my personal wellness goal to add steps of activity to my day. On Monday, September 16, MedStar Health kicks off a wellness initiative so that we all get and stay active. Let’s Get Active! is your opportunity to improve your activity level and create some healthy changes in your life. The challenge ends on October 14 and there are prizes to be had! And EVERY associate who participates gets a pedometer to help keep track!

For this challenge, you must record the equivalent of one-mile per day of activity 5 days per week during the 4-week challenge period. You must enter your activities into the MyActivity Tracker. There are over 200 activities you can do that the MyActivity Tracker will convert to “step equivalents” for this challenge. For example, participating in 9 minutes of a basketball game equals approximately 2,182 steps, which is a little over the one-mile equivalent.

Here’s how it works:

  • Register online starting Friday, September 6, at MedStar MyHealth OnLine, The deadline to register is Sunday, Sept. 15, 11:59pm ET. To get started: 
    • Click on "Health Tools" under MyHealth Central 
    • Select "Wellness Event Registration" 
    • Follow the instructions to register for Let's Get Active! 
  • We'll  be sending more details about where and when to pick up your pedometer. 
  • Beginning September 16, through October 14, use the MyActivity Tracker at MyHealth Online ( to track your daily activity. 
  • As a registered participant you will be eligible to win prizes by:  
    • Logging your steps (or the equivalent of one mile or more) 
    • Five or more days per week 
    • For each of the next four weeks

Go to now to register. Email with your questions.

(For IT support, including questions about logging into MyHealth OnLine, contact the Health and Wellness Service line at 855.242.4871, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

I’m going to get started with open transparency - here is my baseline report from my FitBit and my personal goal is to make sure each week the average number of steps and miles per day hit my goal (10,000 steps per day and 5 miles per day). As you can see, I have some work to do!  I will update you on my progress. 

What do you plan to do to “get active?”