Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Research Lab of the Future

On the eve of New Year's Eve, I thought it would be fitting to share with you one of my favorite "futuristic" pictures from our end-of-year celebrations (which revolved around the theme 'Road to MedStar 2020').

Well, one very creative MHRI associate in the Cardiovascular Core Lab (Jose Rodriguez-Weisson) created a picture of his colleagues in the lab of the future.  Since the Core Lab gets images from around the world to analyze, it was only fitting that this futuristic lab looks like a command center.

I hope everyone had / is having a nice holiday with their family and friends and a safe and enjoyable new year - I very much look forward to 2016 and going new places with research at MedStar Health!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Groundbreaking Concussion Research Study Underway

I am always amazed by the interesting research happening at MedStar. Just recently we announced our participation in an upcoming youth concussion research study at Walt Whitman High School! 

The study will research a new handheld, non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) device being developed by BrainScope that can quickly assess concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.  MedStar Health researchers will recruit 50 varsity student-athletes to participate in the yearlong study.  MedStar Sports Medicine physicians and concussion specialists, Elizabeth Delasobera, MD and Kori Hudson, MD, will oversee the study along with Andrew Lincoln, ScD, MS, director of the Sports Medicine Research Center for the MedStar Health Research Institute. Athletic trainers Katie Brodka and Chris Worrell will also be involved. Check out this article and brief interview with Dr. Lincoln on the benefits of this project!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ugly Sweater Holiday Bake-Off!

Yesterday, I was asked to be a judge of a very special competition - the MCCRC (MedStar Community Clinical Research Center) "Ugly Sweater Bake-Off" - what fun! 

This was a great, end of year celebration that brings out the best in all. There were nine entries, everything from cake to cookies to brownies.  Four impartial guest judges were invited (Clark Bean, Ashlee Tidwell, and Matt Hoffman, and yours truly) and the entries were judged on presentation, complexity, and of course the 'yum factor'.  There was a holiday crown for the winner as well!  

The winning entry was Luscious 4-Layer Pumpkin Cake, baked by Program Manager, Amy Loveland, but the competition was extremely stiff!  Afterwards MCCRC invited everyone over to sample the goods!  

Not only was the event pleasing on the palette, but it got everyone involved in some friendly holiday 'trash-talking' as well as gave us some time to slow down and come together to appreciate each other and the spirit of the season.  For some, it even brought out the latest in holiday sweater fashions!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

End of Year Celebrations

The end of the year is a time of holidays and family celebrations so why should it be any different at MHRI?

Over the last week, we had our end-of-year celebrations with events in Washington, Baltimore and at University Town Center.  Each event was filled with good food, good company and plenty of gifts.  Associates got to guess how many 'badge tags' were in the vase (with guesses ranging from 30 to 650! - the actual number varied at each event but was typically around 70-80).  

We also had a nice collection of Toys-for-Tots with everyone pulling together so we have a great contribution this year. This year also included a fun video, staying with our theme of 'Our Road to MedStar 2020' that included many of our associates showing their more creative and fun side!
Last, but certainly not least, Karen Wade (VP of Administration) presented the annual holiday gift for associates.  In full tradition, she gave us her best 'Vanna White' - while we were almost thrown a curve ball at the Washington celebration (when another associated offered to 'model' the associate gift), Karen was readily available to jump in!

Overall, it was a fun sequence of events and a great opportunity to meet with people outside of the routine of work.  Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


The MedStar Health strategic plan (aka 'MedStar 2020') lays our course to become a distributed care delivery network and one area that the Leadership Team recognized was going to be essential for our future is further development of the talent within our organization.  It is because of this need to further the professional development of MedStar associates that the MLOF (MedStar Leader of the Future) program was created. 

MedStar has now launched 3 leadership training cohorts - 'Top 2000' is a 4-day training session for the 2000+ managers across the system; MLOF Physician leadership training designed as an 18-month longitudinal program designed to provide high potential physician leader more business acumen; and the MLOF Accelerated Leadership Program (ALP) which is also an 18 month program for 15 senior leaders at MedStar designed to further their skill set and be prepared for the rapidly changing landscape of health care. The last two are co-designed with Wharton, one of the premiere business schools in the country.  There is also a nurses MLOF in development.

I was fortunate to be part of the first cohort in the MLOF ALP and spent 3 days in Philadelphia on the Wharton campus with other leaders at MedStar (see picture below). Ken Samet, our system president and CEO kicked it off and shared his perspective on the importance of leadership development and planning. We then had great lectures by Wharton professors, some directly related to healthcare and other applicable to all areas of business (change, creativity and innovation, knowledge management, and behavior ecomomics);  and of course, a business school experience would not be complete without a day of finances!

It was an energizing experience and reminds me about the importance of life long learning - I look forward to the next 17 months of the program!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Georgetown 'Read'

I recently wrote my monthly message on the importance of life long learning through professional development and career growth.  Taking part in an educational experience can be the most rewarding gift we can give ourselves (and by role modeling life-long learning, we influence the ones we love to also be learners throughout their life).

So, the timing of the 'Read' posters coming out at the Georgetown University Medical Center library could not have been better!  Each year, the library unveils several new posters of Georgetown professors with their favorite book encouraging everyone to read.  I was fortunate to be asked to take part in this initiative this year.  I decided to highlight a new textbook on echocardiography.  That does not sound very exciting but it is meaningful for me - this is a comprehensive textbook (with an online textbook version that includes slide sets and case study videos) that is written by leaders across the globe from the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) and published on behalf of the Society (more info at: ).  This textbook came out while I was president of ASE and has rapidly gained acceptance as the leading textbook in the field.  I am proud to be part of the vision and implementation to see this textbook set a new direction where professional societies are leading the way on commissioning important pieces of work such as this.    

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Research Nurses' Retreat

Guest Blogger: Joan K. Bardsley, MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE

Many of MHRI nurses met a few weeks ago at the inaugural MHRI Nursing Research Retreat at the Sheraton Hotel in Columbia, MD.  The group included registered nurses working throughout MHRI who have not had the opportunity to meet each other face-to-face. There was a great deal of engagement based on the commonality of a nursing background, despite different locales and positions. Several nurses shared the work they were doing on studies, lessons learned, and pearls of wisdom.

Guest speakers included:

·         Dr. Neil Weissman, President of MHRI

·         Dr Maureen McCausland , CNO of MedStar Health

·         Angela Thomas, Executive Director, Health Services Research Administration

·         Dr Nawar Shara, Director, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

·         Dr Vanita Aroda, Scientific Director, MedStar Community Clinical Research Center

·         Maureen McNulty, RN , Quality Assurance Associate

·         Shaunagh Browning, RN, Nurse Manager, Clinical Research Unit, Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS)

Collectively, the group decided that research nurses should continue to meet face-to-face for a longer period of time and use technology to stay connected in the interim.   It was clear that nurses have a unique perspective on research, what they bring to MHRI, and the added value they bring to research participants’ experience given their nursing background.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

I've seen many nice MedStar Thanksgiving messages today but this one is my favorite - both the message and the happy picture:

This Thanksgiving, MedStar Health celebrates the spirit of the holiday: giving thanks. As we gather around the table, we are grateful for the things that mean the most – cherished family and friends, our freedom and independence, and good health. Thank you for making us your trusted partner in health.

I hope every enjoyed their family and friends today and got a chance to 'play in the leaves' on this beautiful day.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Science!

Here is a fun intersection of science and Thansgiving. 

Imagine if this Thanksgiving you could trick your brain into thinking that the plate of green beans in front of you actually tastes like chocolate cake! That day might be here sooner than we think thanks to the growing field of neurogastronomy. This new science merges the science and culinary worlds by studying the human brain and the behavior that influences how we experience eating and drinking. More importantly, researchers are studying if advances in taste and odor perception could make it possible to one day manipulate taste perception neurologically.

Gordon M. Shepherd, a physiologist and professor in the neuroscience department at Yale is leading the charge in this field by studying the sense of smell and how odor is processed by neurological circuits in the brain. To learn more about his findings and contributions to neurogastronomy as profiled by the Wall Street Journal click here.

So as you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal this year, take comfort in knowing that perhaps one day, in the not too distance future, that macaroni and cheese you’re eating and feeling totally satisfied with is actually broiled broccoli!

I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving with your loved ones this year!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I would highlight one of my favorite 'giving' programs at MedStar - 30 Days of Gratitude.  

This program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is an opportunity to stop for a moment and reflect on the colleagues for whom you are grateful, and why. Then the associates just sends in a few sentences explaining “why” they are grateful, along with the person’s name and department, and a photo of the honoree (even a selfie of you both).

Then, the expressions of gratitude are publicly displayed.

In this last round, two MHRI associates were nominated - Antoinette Newman and Ron Migues - congratulations!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Georgetown Rainbow

What is at the end of your rainbow? 

Well this afternoon it was the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

I can't remember the last time I saw such a vibrant rainbow and how apropos that it was as was walking from the Georgetown Medical School to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ADA's National Healthy Lunch Day

What did you have for lunch today? With an increased focus on health, and not just healthcare, I thought you may enjoy this:

More information about National Healthy Lunch Day at this website
including some fun infographics like the one below on how to build a healthier sandwich.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Wii Bowling at MHRI

Guest Blogger: Michele Lee Clements, Research Planning Manager

So what did you do during your lunch break this week?

MHRI associates at UTC work hard every day to support and advance research, however they are just as committed when it comes to employee engagement and a little friendly competition!

The associates at University Town Center (UTC) held its 2nd Wii Bowling Tournament, hosted by Clark Bean and Michele Lee Clements yesterday.  The tournament offered Associates a time to step away from their busy schedules and reconnect with one another in UTC’s virtual bowling alley.   

Ten teams were given lane assignments at various times throughout the morning, and one by one they were eliminated.  It all came down to the Final Round featuring the seasoned, self-proclaimed college Wii bowling champions, Matt Hoffman and Alex Kuhn, better known as “The Turkeys”, against “The Enforcers”, Debbie Dasgupta and Maureen McNulty, virtual unknowns in the Wii bowling community who would prove to be stiff competition.  

Tension was thick across the bowling lane as strikes and spares were bowled back to back.  The crowd appeared to favor the underdog Enforcers, but luck (and some skill) favored the Turkeys who, in the end, pulled out the win.  Final score – Turkeys 405, Enforcers 284 with Alex holding the high score of 224!

Congratulations to Matt and Alex who went home with the prized Wii Bowling trophy and movie tickets!  And thank you to all who participated as bowlers and spectators.  A great time was had by all! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Afternoon Recognizing Women's Health

Last month, associates across MHRI sat in to hear an overview of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) and MHRI's significant contributions to the project over the years. 

The WHI was established by the National Institutes of health (NIH) in 1991 to address the most common causes of death, disability, and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women.It included randomized controlled trials of hormone therapy, low fat diet, and Calcium/Vitamin D supplementation to address cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis as well as an observational study.

The WHI enrolled more than 160,000 postmenopausal women, making it one of the largest U.S. prevention studies of its kind. MHRI's group enrolled nearly 4,000 women in 3 years including the highest number of African American women per site to the study.

Dr. Barbara Howard, former MHRI president and WHI Principal Investigator at MHRI, gave an informative overview of the study and results of this important study. Geraldine Boggs, Program Manager for WHI will be retiring after 20 years with MHRI and spoke about her involvement in the project. 

To learn more about the Initiative click here or check the November issue of our FOCUS Newsletter

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Systemness Tour

Systemness - it is the underlying theme behind the creation of a distributed care delivery network which we refer to as "MedStar 2020." We are not just 10 hospitals and 250 ambulatory sites, but a network of health care that is connected. One way to instill systemness is that all new senior managers across MedStar take part in a 3-day tour of the System, visiting every hospital and several ambulatory sites. Dr. Lisa Boyle and I have the pleasure of being the Leadership Team hosts for the tour occurring this week. Below are some pictures of the group (including MHRI CFO Bill Gayne) at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center and observing telehealth technology for real time neurology stroke consults in MedStar St. Mary's Hospital (60 miles south of Washington). If you are interested I getting real time updates of the tour, follow MedStar's new Cheif Digital Officer Mike Ruiz on Twitter (@ruizm001) as he shares his own experience and perspective.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

W. Proctor Harvey Amphitheater

On Friday, October 23th, the W. Proctor Harvey Amphitheater was dedicated at Georgetown University.  Dr. Harvey was the director of the Division of Cardiology for 35 years (1950-1985) and was internationally known for developing innovative audiovisual approaches to teaching auscultation of the heart.  Uniquely skilled in the art of medicine, unsurpassed in his knowledge of cardiology and celebrated as a teacher, Dr. Harvey became one of Georgetown's most valuable and enduring professors.

With generous donations from alumni, the Wiegand Foundation and from MedStar Health, the new amphitheater was build with a stage centered between two steep set of seats so everyone can watch and learn diagnostic skills and every seat has a headset so they can hear the heart sounds simultaneously.

This amphitheater is also the home of the newly created Georgetown-MedStar Medical Education Institute. This institute provides space for clinical teaching, supports MedStar's educational programs, continuing medical education, joint simulation training programs and the capability to stream live with binaural auscultation anywhere in the world.

In the picture above, John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown Univeristy is addressing the alumni and guests for the official dedication.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

MedStar Researchers in Today's US News

I am always amazed on how the national news agencies pick up on some of our local, investigator initiated studies such as the SAFEHeart trial at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital by Drs Ana Barac and Sandra Swain which is in today's US News and World Report..

This study is a wonderful collaboration of cardiology and oncology in a new, growing area called cardio-oncology. It looks at the cardiac health of cancer patients, especially those that get chemotherapy that can effect the heart.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

MedStar's Annual Giving Campaign

Some of you may have read my monthly message in this month’s FOCUS newsletter where I reflected on the idea of how giving back not only makes a difference and feels good, but can help the overall mission of advancing health.
I am excited to share a new initiative this year around MedStar’s annual associate philanthropy campaign that will have a direct positive impact for emerging, new high-potential investigators.
As you are aware, MedStar launched the 2015 Annual Philanthropy Campaign at each MedStar Health entity, Giving: The Power to Heal.  The campaign is in its second week and I hope each of you have already considered contributing.  As we reviewed this program for research, we recognized that when we give, we want to know that our donation will have an impact.  For this reason, we are going to use 100% of associate giving funds donated or pledged in the month of October for a directed purpose:
For the first time, we are pleased to announce that associate gifts designated to the MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) will go towards the “MedStar Research ASSOCIATE GIVING GRANT FUND.”  This grant fund is being established to benefit MedStar Health investigators and the important research they are conducting each and every day in our hospitals, clinics and communities we serve. Specifically, the fund will recognize at least one new MedStar Investigator (within 5 years of joining MedStar at a faculty/attending level) each year.  The recipient will be chosen through a formal request for proposal (RFP) and scientific review process with the goal of supporting his/her research project. The size of the annual grant and the number of grants will be dependent on associate donations each year. We feel this is a great way our donations can help have a meaningful, positive effect on the growth of research at MedStar and is a true investment in our academic future. More details about the RFP and selection process will be forthcoming after the associate giving period is closed.  In the meantime, if you have questions, please contact Katie Coyle, MedStar Health Philanthropy representative via email or at 202-329-8157.
From now through the end of October, you have a unique opportunity – in addition to the great work you do here each day – to make a difference for research at MedStar Health by supporting philanthropy through Giving: The Power to Heal.
I hope you will join me, other associates and clinicians from our hospitals and around the MedStar system by participating in this important campaign. Every gift matters, no matter the size so give whatever you feel comfortable with. Your gift will make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families by supporting high quality research by our next generation of investigators. 
Participation is easy – visit or call Katie Coyle, our philanthropy officer at 202.329.8157.  By selecting MedStar Health Research Institute, all donations and pledges in October will be used for this new investigator research award.
I just made my donation – it took 60 seconds online.
Thank you for using your Power to Heal [through research]!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Insight and Imagination

Guest Blogger: Patricia Evans, Senior Financial Analyst, Office of Financial Management, MHRI

Yesterday was a special reminder of all the fun and exciting things going on at Medstar.  I had the honor of attending the 6th annual MI2 (MedStar Institute for Innovation) Innovations in …Thinking Differently Forum.  It was an opportunity to reconnect as well as meet a diverse group of people across the system.  

This year’s theme was Insight and Imagination.  Although prevalent to us all, insight is something we generally do not pay attention to or give a high priority in our daily lives.  There were a number of talented speakers and Dr. Gary Klein gave us a very thought provoking equation.

Traditionally, the focus of organizations has been reducing errors.  And though important, is not the only method that should be implemented.  Because measuring insight is more difficult organizations have been more hesitant to pursue that strategy.  That hesitation could impair the organization’s ability to discover their untapped potential.  How do we develop this insight?  Klein suggested making it a habit or an active curious state of mind.  His suggestions included:  keeping a journal, using curiosity, encouraging others and lastly, create opportunities from areas of conflict or confusion.

Another speaker Donna Harris, Co-CEO of 1776 reminded us that inspiration is not just out there in new entrepreneurs but in each of us also.  She talked about the new era of public benefit corporations leading the way for making change.  Artist Chris Ayers inspired us with his personal story about beating cancer and how his use of drawing a different animal each day helped him through his first year of treatment.  The outcome was a beautiful book of drawings that can now inspire others.  His passion was evident and it was hard to tell where work began and the fun ended.  He offered valuable suggestions of things to do when we find ourselves in a rut or experiencing writer’s block.  His message was simple: start with a squiggle and no one knows where it will end. 

Read his amazing story Daily Zoo.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Accepting Applications: Teaching and Research Scholars!

Last month we announced that applications were open for our MedStar Teaching Scholars program. The deadline for applications are due this Friday, October 9th and you can learn more about the program here

Another opportunity we are excited to announce is our 3rd annual Research Scholar Program (applications due Monday, November 9th). While our teaching scholar program is aimed for faculty/staff interested in medical education and bringing their medical education activities to the ‘next level’ by taking part in AAMC Medical Education Research Certification (MERC), the Research Scholars program is for faculty who want a career that has a substantial portion (at least 30%) in research (clinical or translational) but have not launched yet as an independent investigator. It emphasizes skill sets, mentorship and knowledge/access to resources to conduct research. The goal is to provide a select group of clinicians with the knowledge and skills to develop a major career focus conducting clinical or translational research; to design, conduct and publish clinical research projects and to write and submit grant applications; and to learn to collaborate effectively in multidisciplinary team science.

For more information on both programs, including applications, visit our website, here under the "Advanced Training Resources" heading.