Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Award Season!

It’s been another successful proposal season at MHRI with several new federal and foundation awards as well as commercial contracts all within the last quarter of the year. I would like to extend a BIG congratulation to the investigators below for their recent accomplishments. It’s wonderful to see how their science will extend from the bench to the bedside to the community and ultimately make healthcare safer, better and more accessible. From a new PCORI contact to a high profile CDC study to a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation award to an impressive AHRQ R01, the studies below all represent truly innovative and transformative research at the most elite level. To all investigators – thank you for your hard work and contributions to research across MedStar!

Suzanne Groah, MD, MPH,  director of Spinal Cord Injury Research at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network was recently awarded a prestigious research contract from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), titled “The Impact of Self-Management with Probiotics on Urinary Symptoms and the Urine Microbiome in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury and Spina Bifida.” As part of the three year study, with a projected budget of $1,785,883, Dr. Groah’s team will conduct a prospective study in which they will develop and assess a patient-initiated Self-Management Protocol using Probiotics (SMP-UTI) instilled directly into the bladder for UTI symptom relief, early UTI management, and urinary health.  The team will also develop a urinary symptom questionnaire for individuals with neurogenic bladder which will facilitate future research endeavors.

  Kathryn A. Walker, PharmD, will be leading a project with Abt Associates to develop a coordinated care plan for safe opioid prescribing for U.S. health systems. As part of the contract, awarded to Abt Associates by the CDC, MedStar will become the first healthcare system in the nation to develop, pilot and test a safe opioid prescribing plan which will then be available as a guide for any health care provider or system to implement in their practice.  MedStar’s subcontract is for an 18 month period.

Sarah E. Henrickson Parker, PhD, Research Scientist at the National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare was recently awarded an 18 month grant titled “Leveraging the informal social networks that exist in health care settings to improve patient safety” from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. More information about the grant can be found here: 

Rollin J. "Terry" Fairbanks, MD, MS, director of the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare and director of the Simulation Training & Education Laboratory (MedStar SiTEL), emergency physician at MWHC, and associate professor of emergency medicine at Georgetown University received an AHRQ R01 award for “Cognitive Engineering for Complex Decision Making & Problem Solving in Acute Care.” This five year, $2.5 million award is being lead by Dr. Fairbanks and his co-PI Zach Hettinger, MD MS, Medical Director of the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, emergency physician at Union Memorial, and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Georgetown University, and continues a productive collaboration with the department of industrial systems engineering at the University at Buffalo. This grant is a follow-on to work the team completed as part of Dr. Fairbanks' NIH K08 career development award from the NIBIB which ended recently.

Monday, December 22, 2014


100% - the percent of MHRI associates who helped put patient first and complied with the MedStar mandatory influenza vaccination program

100% - the number of MHRI associates who are making MedStar safer and contributing to us becoming an HRO (High Reliability Organization) by taking their HRO training by the end of the year

100% - the number of MHRI associates advancing health through research each day and together building the future of academic medicine by doing research where academics and real world healthcare come together

100% - the percent of MHRI associates 'connected' through their work (and now through their holiday gift which will keep their smart-phones fully charged!)

100% - the percent of the MedStar-Georgetown research community that I sincerely hope gets to enjoy this  holiday season and spend meaningful / quality time with their family and friends.

Happy Holidays everyone.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Year-End Events Celebrate Teamwork

Earlier this week, we finished up our year-end celebrations that were held at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, University Town Center and MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

The theme of this year's celebrations was "Let's Get Connected". If you attended one of the three events, you saw the fun presentation on the lifecycle of research and how all of our roles work together to further research.

We asked attendees to sign a picture frame and share what keeps them engaged at MHRI. When we went to hang the frame, something stood out to me. More than any other word on the frame was the word: TEAMWORK. It is teamwork that most of our associated treasure most.

And for those of you who didn't attend. View our photo slideshow here!

It was so great seeing all of you at these events.  Together, staying connected through our work, we are building the future of academic medicine, where research occurs at the intersection of real world healthcare and academics.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season with your family and friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cubicle Christmas

MHRI's Office of Grants and Contract Management (OCGM) showed their holiday spirit by holding a cube decorating contest! This is the first year of the contest but it was so much fun that it's sure to be a start of a yearly tradition. The winner, Gail Kiddy, won a poinsettia and Chili's gift card for her Ravens-inspired holiday decor! Enjoy the photos below! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

MedStar Health's Upcoming Advertising Campaign!

It's a great time to feel proud to be a part of the MedStar system! 

I'm very excited to share with you MedStar Health’s multimedia advertising campaign that will
launch Monday, December 15 in the Washington, DC and Baltimore regions.  The campaign, which will run through mid-February, features 30-second TV commercials, print and digital advertising, as well as social media. 

The goals of the campaign are to:

1)    Enhance MedStar Health’s reputation as the trusted leader in caring for people and advancing health
2)    Continue building MedStar Health’s brand awareness and, ultimately, consumer preference.
3)    Spotlight key service lines in the Washington, DC region.
4)    Promote MedStar Health as an integrated healthcare delivery system by highlighting our strengths: our people, comprehensive services, expertise, innovation and technology.

The underlying theme of the TV ads is “In One Day …” The ads demonstrate that the work we do is inspiring, but it’s not an abstract mission. Patients can see and feel it every day. The TV ads are more captivating than a typical commercial—with a personal look inside the region’s largest health system.

The TV ads will be seen on popular programs, including: The Today Show, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, NFL Playoff and Championship Games, The View, The Doctors, The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Phil, and Ellen. These ads also will be shown during The Grammy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and select holiday programming.

Four-color print ads will run in the Sunday Main section of The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun beginning December 28, and will go through the end of January 2015 (see a sample of the print ad attached). Digital advertising will run for eight weeks on various ad networks. Key messaging from the branding campaign, as well as the TV segments and print ads, will be included in social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. To view the TV ads, please click the following links:

Friday, December 5, 2014

MedStar Health Becomes Medical Partner for Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards

It was announced yesterday that MedStar is now the team doctor for the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards! These teams add to the long list of organizations (55!) that MedStar is the medical partner for, including the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Nationals. 

MedStar has the largest Sports Medicine Program in the mid-atlantic region which includes more than 40 physicians, as well as certified athletic trainers, nurses, therapists, nutritionists and clinical support employee

MedStar Sports Medicine is also currently conducting cardiovascular research and head injury research for the National Football League. It also offers a sports medicine fellowship program for young orthopedic surgeons.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Just finished up a 2-day MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) Board of Directors (BOD) meeting which we held at the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) headquarters at the Intelsat building downtown DC. This very modern building with lots of glass and spiral staircases was a dramatic setting for the meeting (although it did get a little noisy as the rain came down on the glass ceiling!).

MHRI Board of Directors is made up of national figures, from around the country, with expertise in different aspects of research.  We have members who have experience at the HHS, FDA, NIH, National Academies, American Diabetes Association, Doris Duke and Pfizer, just to name a few. These Board members have experience running large research hospital based organizations, research programs in companies or agencies that fund research. The full list of members is at this link. 

Much of our time was used to discuss 'advancing health' at MedStar - what are the differentiators and the unique areas of opportunities.  We weaved in advancing health through education (thanks to Jamie Padmore) and advancing health through innovatioin (thanks to Mark Smith). This was supplemented with scientific presentations from human factors group (thanks Zach and Terry!). It was a dynamic, engaged and thoughtful discussion - so much so, I realize we need several more hours to dedicate to the topic!

On fun thing we did was bring the Board to the simulation lab which is primarily used for education of clinicians in training. They got hands on experience (see photos below) and then we discussed how this lab can be used for research endeavors (thanks to Bill and  Kendall!).

All in all, a very productive 2 days - thanks to our Board!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Trivia

Hope everyone gets a chance to relax and have a chance to be with friends and family.  To help pass the time while you wait for your feast, below is a fun Thanksgiving trivia (answers at the bottom).  Also at the  bottom is the MedStar Thanksgiving ad that will be printed in the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post.  Enjoy!

1) What is a male turkey called?
a) Turk He   b) Tom Turkey   c) Sir Turkey
2) What is the likely reason that many people get sleepy after eating Thanksgiving dinner?
a)   The tryptophan in the turkey   b) Too much food with too many calories   c) Gravy
3) The first department store to hold a Thanksgiving parade was:
a) Montgomery Wards   b) J.C. Penney's  c) Gimbel's   d) Macy's   e) None of the above
4)  Butterball says the best place to put the meat thermometer in the turkey is:
a) Breast   b) Thigh   c) Top of leg   d) At an angle so it hits both the meat & stuffing
5) Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday.  But, before he did, when was Thanksgiving celebrated?
a) Whenever people felt like it   b) The first full moon of November   c) Whenever the Governor of a State said so.
6) The first Thanksgiving football game was started in 1934 by which team?
a) Pittsburgh Steelers   b) Kansas City Chiefs   c) Detroit Lions
7) All Turkeys gobble.  True or False?
Trivia Answers:

1)  b.  A male turkey is actually called a tom while a female turkey is called a hen.
2)  b.  Scientists agree that tryptophan is responsible for inducing sleep, but the amount of the chemical in turkey is not enough to really have an effect on someone. In fact, according to National Geographic News, turkey has just as much tryptophan than other foods like beef or soybeans.  The likely culprit of that groggy post-Thanksgiving dinner feeling is in fact a hefty meal with a high calorie count, or the drinking of alcohol with the meal.
3)   c.  Gimbel's department store in Philadelphia, 1920
4)   b.  Thigh
5)   c.  The governor of each state set the date.
6)   c.  Detroit Lions.  They started it to help boost attendance.  They played the Chicago Bears in that first game.
7)   False.  Male turkeys gobble to announce their presence to females and competing males. Hens "yelp" to let gobblers know their location.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Becomes an International Affair at MHRI

Guest Blogger, Alton Henry, Cardiovascular Core Laboratory

On Wednesday, November 19, the Cardiovascular Core Lab celebrated this great holiday by doing an International Pot Luck-- what a great idea!  

We have a very diverse group of associates from around the world and what better way to be introduced to each other countries than by sharing our favorite dishes?  

Dishes included favorites from:  The Philippines, Russia, Argentina, Jamaica, Vietnam, Ecuador, Albania, China, USA, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Israel.   

Below are some pictures of how the entrees were identified and some ways to say  'Thank You' in various languages (Can anyone guess them)? 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Celebrations Begin

Can you believe the Thanksgiving holiday is next week? Around the system, associates are starting to celebrate in creative ways that bring the research team together.

Today, MedStar Health Research Institute associates at University Town Center (UTC) participated in a holiday potluck luncheon by bringing in their favorite holiday dishes. UTC associates also hosted their annual canned food drive for the Capital Area Food Bank.

Please post comments and pictures below to share how your office celebrated the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Task Force for Sports Injuries in High School Female Athletes

Andrew Lincoln, ScD, MS, Director of MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center, has been asked to testify in support of HB 1332 in the last Maryland legislative session and attended the signing along with high school athletes, area coaches, and a World Cup champion/Olympic gold medalist. 

The goals of the Task Force are to: 1) review the medical literature, 2) identify effective methods of reducing sports injuries incurred by high school female athletes, 3) determine whether the Maryland Department of Education should develop requirements for high school female athletic programs for the prevention of injuries, and 4) make policy recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly. Andy helped promote the research findings from the MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center which will contribute to the efforts of the Task Force and advance the health of high school female athletes.

Andy was invited to serve on the Task Force as an epidemiologist with expertise in adolescent female sports injuries in collaboration with clinicians, legislators, coaches, educators, and high school athletes. This is a great example of how our research furthers our recognition as experts that help translate research into results in our community.  Congratulations Andy!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Philanthropy for Research at Moffitt

Yesterday, Bruce Bartoo (the Chief Philanthropy Officer at MedStar Health) and I spent the day at Moffitt Cancer Center to learn more about their efforts to increase philanthropic investment in research. 

Moffitt is the only National Cancer Institute (NIH) designated comprehensive cancer center in the state of Florida.It is a beautiful facility - a dedicated hospital for cancer care in southwest Florida. Immediately adjacent to the hospital is the Sabile Research Building (see picture with glass atrium).  They have approximately 75 PhD's and several clinical investigators who are proud of how they translate research research in the lab to the clinic.

Our focus for the day was philanthropy and how grateful patients are given a chance to 'invest' in the future care and cures for cancer.  This workshop was how investigators' can learn about the donors' perspective and how they can communicate with potential donors in a way that is understandable and attractive. As investigators, we know that our work is so very important and meaningful; we get excited about its potential to change the future of healthcare - there is no reason we should be the only ones to contribute to making this a reality and that is what philanthropic investments is all about.

One of the things I noticed was how many of their buildings and programs are endowed in the name of the donor.  Their motto also lends to this giving culture (see picture of motto on wall): " .. to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer." 

Over the next few weeks, Bruce and I will be following up to bring this workshop to MedStar investigators and philanthropic officers across the system.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

MedStar PromptCare opens in Alexandria

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of MedStar's 10th MedStar PromptCare site in Alexandria, VA which also includes a MMG Primary Care Office.  I was excited because this is located close to my home and represents a greater presence in northern Virginia.  It was a great event, with the mayor of Alexandria saying a few words and many MedStar investigators, physicians and staff (who live in the  area) came out to welcome this new addition to the neighborhood. 

MedStar PromptCare, an urgent care center, is designed as a walk in service (no appointments) for most injuries, illnesses, school sports physicals and pre-employment physicals and flu shots. Unlike some other urgent care facilities, there is a physician on site at all MedStar PromptCares and they are typically open late (one in Alexandria is open 8 am to 8 pm). They are located throughout Baltimore and Washington (see this link for locations), furthering our MedStar 2020 strategy to be a distributed care network.The nice thing about the care you get at these sites is that it is coordinated (through the use of the same electronic medical record) with the  rest of your care at MedStar. I think all our patients will appreciate the convenience of MedStar PromptCare and it will play an important part in the 'portfolio' of medical services we offer.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What's For Lunch?

Recently, some team members from the MedStar Health Research Institute hosted a "salad day" at UTC location where associates brought in a different salad ingredient to share. What a great idea!

Our salad day was also featured on MedStar Health's Facebook page today. Check it out here:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

StarPort is getting a new look!

A system-wide StarPort facelift has finally made its way to MHRI! The new page, debuting Tuesday, November 11, will be more aesthetically appealing, easier to navigate, and will serve as an even better resource for our associates.

MedStar has slowly been introducing new StarPort pages one entity at a time, and next week, MHRI will reveal its new look.

The new look will offer many tools and resources such as quick links, an upcoming event calendar, an associate engagement section, and easy access to what you look for most.

Please take the time this week to update your personal information on the current StarPort page to ensure it is up-to-date. Go to your name in the top right corner, click on "my settings" in the drop down menu to review and update your information. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Step Up Your Health

Guest Blogger, Christine Alhambra, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at MedStar Health Research Institute

After attending a Wellness Summit earlier this month at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital's Arlington Office with Joan Bardsley, Assistant VP of Core Scientific Services, I was inspired to share my thoughts on the importance of incorporating movement into your daily routine.
My (New) Husband and I after participating in
the Savage Mud/Obstacle Race

At the summit, wellness chairs from across the syst
em took a field trip to Georgetown Hospital to see their "Flights of Fitness" a Revitalization Project to encourage associates and physicians to use the stairs rather than the elevator. Many hours, days, months were spent revitalizing the stairwell with beautiful artwork and inspirational quotes.

Other wellness chairs shared what their sites were doing to encourage health and wellness and keep people active. As the weather changes, for me personally, I know all I want to do after work is go straight home and sit on the couch. But I think it's important to remember that walking or taking the stairs, even if it's for 15 minutes can be a way to not only get some exercise but also spend some time with your fellow associates. Hey, just think of it as the new watercooler!

One of the quotes in the Georgetown Hospital
"Flights of Fitness" Stairwell
In health terms, they say sitting is the new smoking. Sitting for long periods without breaks can lead to slower productivity and brain function, increase in disability, greater risk of cardiovascular disease, could cause the pancreas to produce too much insulin, and a long laundry list of other health risks. People spend an estimated two-thirds of their lives at their place of employment. In order to stay healthy, we need to find ways to incorporate physical activity into our workday

I challenge fellow associates to try a walking meeting, or to take the stairs to your desk instead of the elevator a few times a week. To practice what I preach I just signed up for my first 5k of the year that will take place on Thanksgiving.

As part of a health system, we owe it to ourselves to take care of our own health as well as contribute to the health of others. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Healthy Choices

This weekend I received my MedStar Total Rewards material and had a chance to look through it. While this is a routine annual occurrence for those of us who have been at MedStar for a while, I was pleased to see how the MedStar Select option has grown to now have out-of-network coverage.  There were several other things, besides the usual medical and dental coverage - lots of choices which is good because that way each person just selects what makes sense for them and their family.  Take time and check it out - it really is a great benefit to being part of a large organization that is putting more emphasis on healthy living.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New MedStar SiTEL Training

As a follow-up to my email message yesterday afternoon regarding
Ebola Preparations at MedStar Health, I wanted to remind associates that a MedStar SiTEL module was created to ensure the safety of our associates and to be certain we are all equipped with updated information.

The  module is titled, “MedStar Hospital Ebola Update October 2014,” and is now available. This is a mandatory education requirement for all associates, clinical and non-clinical.

All managers and associates are expected to complete this module no later than Friday, Oct. 24. To access the course, sign in to On the left side of the page, click on My Curriculum. Under the Current tab, you will find all of the information pertaining to this course.

1. Login to the MedStar SiTEL Learning Management System (
If you have forgotten your login click “Forgot Email or Password” or call the help center (see below)
2. On the left side of the page click “My Curriculum”
3. Click “Get Started” to the right of the proper course title: "MedStar Ebola Update October 2014"

If you have any questions or difficulty, please call the MedStar SiTEL Help Center (8am-6pm M-F) at 1-877-748-3567 or use the Live Chat feature available on the system.

Again, thank you for your attention to this important topic. Please do not hesitate to contact your manager or any other member of MHRI leadership with questions or concerns.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What I am buliding

Guest Blogger, Maria DiSebastiano, Provider Relations, MedStar Family Choice

After reading Dr. Weissman's President message in the October issue of FOCUS, I thought you may be interested in hearing what I am “building”.

Along with others, I am building a community  extension of the MedStar Health “Garden”  through MedStar Family Choice. Allow me to explain. Yesterday while listening to a preacher I learned that the Garden of Eden was named such because it was “guarded” by God’s Angels and therefore the “Gardener” was the one who tended the “Guarded” place in the earthly realm. This is why Jesus was mistaken as the Gardener by the ladies who came to the tomb….because the tomb was suppose to be “Guarded” and the Roman Guards were sleeping.

How does this apply to me and my co workers building the community extension of the MedStar Health “Garden?”   

I see MedStar Health Research as being the “Gardener” in that it guards what is being built and along with all the support and guidance that you are providing us (the hoe and the rake and the shovel and the seeds and the water) we are building an extension of the  MedStar Health Garden in MedStar Family Choice, which reaches out to the community and assists in providing valuable preventative support to the its members. We make sure to choose only the best community providers (seeds) and keep them informed on how to care for our members (hoe and rake and shovel). We call (water) members  to make sure they schedule and complete their annual exams for themselves and their children and we provide great education (more water) in health fairs to teach them about making good nutritional choices, among other things.  All this “cultivation”  results in greatly reducing the ER visits and Urgent care visits of our community members and thus produces a healthier “Garden!”

And the best part is we don’t need to wait for Spring time to plant and cultivate our “Garden”…we do it all year round!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Time Flies By

I thought I would share with you some reflections.

I had the chance to spend Friday and Saturday at Cornell Medical School where I graduated in 1988. They hold a reunion every two years so this was my '25th anniversary' along with the class of 1989.

I took the opportunity to visit with my first medical mentor, some colleagues I continue to collaborate and with some that I met for the first time.  Among the highlights was to meet with the lead of their new joint clinical research office, a partnership between Cornell University and New York Presbyterian Hospital. There was a lot to be learned from their early experience and successes.    

Another highlight was being selected to take part in a panel discussion in which a patient was presented and a representative from the graduating medical student class from 50 years ago, from 25 years ago (yours truly) and a current medical student all shared how they would have taken care of the cardiac patient in their era as a medical student.
Here was the case:  

A 50 year old gray haired advertising executive is admitted with chest pain after a night of carousing with twins – His name is Roger Sterling, and it is Episode 10 of Season 1 of Mad Men (see picture to the right).  It was remarkable how much medicine changed over our lifetimes; I now realize I was a student during the period that there was effective treatment for acute myocardial infarction for the first time. The current student took it all for granted.

And of course, it is always good to see people you worked so closely with for several years and got to know very well, but have lost contact with over time.  Of the 100 people in my medical school class, about 40 made it back for this event - quite a remarkable group of people who span medical leadership roles throughout the country.... and an enjoyable group to see again, as you can see from this picture below taken at a class dinner.