Sunday, May 21, 2017

Engaged MHRI Associates!

While the results of the Associate Engagement survey are being released at the Spring Town Halls next month, it's always nice to see the friends and colleagues at UTC engaged on a day-to-day basis! As Michele said "We work so well together, we coordinate our outfits without thinking about it!"
From left to right: Eva Hochberger, Brenda Tsai, Patricia Evans, & Michele Lee Clements. Photos by Jim Resiert
I hope everyone is able to attend an upcoming town hall and see how engaged MHRI associates are across the system, not just at the UTC offices.

Friday, June 9
University Town Center
Multipurpose Room
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Click here to add the UTC Town Hall to your Calendar

Wednesday, June 14

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
Curtis Hand Conference Center
2:00pm to 3:00pm

Click here to add the MUMH Town Hall to your Calendar

Wednesday, June 21
MedStar Washington Hospital Center
True Auditorium
9:00am to 10:00am

Click here to add the MWHC Town Hall to your Calendar

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Research on MedStar TV!

As many of you know, the new MedStar Health corporate offices in Columbia opened their doors at the new location recently. Just around the corner from the old building, it's a brand new space.

Around the same time, the Digital Team at MedStar launched MedStarTV. On screens across the MedStar system, from hospital to PromptCare, 'MedStar TV' provides information for patients about everything from tips to healthy living to events across MedStar. 

To my delight, I was happy to see (when I walked into the new building) not only a TV system promoting MedStar, but one showcasing research as a banner along the right border!  So, of course, I needed to take a picture and share it with you....

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Importance of Professional Development

Guest Bloggers:

Christina Stanger, MA, CRA
Director, Office of Contract and Grant Management, MedStar Health Research Institute

Ron Migues, MD
Scientific Administrative Director, MedStar Health Research Institute

We know, you’ve heard about the importance of professional development many times over, right? And there have been changes over the past year in how professional development and tuition assistance are being handled, right? Some staff are thrilled, and others not so much. We know, believe us, we know!

Being in management at a research institute means you automatically have to stay on top of changing regulations, political upheavals, new financial mandates, and specific agency changes. We have Uniform Guidance adoption deadlines, the final Common Rule and the single IRB, Research & Terms Conditions (RTC) implementations that are different for each sponsoring agency, DATA act compliance, changing proposal submission applications and systems…UGGHHH! And that is just the past year on the administrative side of things for federal awards. Being on the programmatic side of things is no easier. There are lots of changes and new ways of doing things popping up all the time in our 24/7 world. How do you keep up, and how do you keep your staff up-to-date on the latest and greatest without breaking the bank?

Thankfully, we can rely on our professional development funds. And, yes we know it is hard to stretch these funds! Sometimes you need to be inventive: speak at a conference to get free registration; look into volunteer work at a conference to see if you can work one day and attend sessions for free the next; search for local conferences; ask your department to pitch in a little extra (if they have it); build it into your annual budget; or build it into a grant proposal and dual-purpose the travel funds for both research meetings and professional development at a national conference.
We recently stretched our funds to the limit, but we were able to attend the most recent NIH meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana with a few other MHRI staff members. We pooled funds, discovered NIH has cheap registration fees, split hotel rooms, and took some cheaper flights with delays. However, we also learned a lot about upcoming NIH changes, spoke one-on-one with NIH experts, ate some awesome food in one of the greatest cities, and became good friends. The staff was immensely grateful, learned priceless information, and was actively engaged with NIH staff and what they were learning. We gained new contacts at NIH and brought back lots of peer review information to share at our upcoming PI Orientation. Here are a few photos of our group representing MHRI at the meeting and enjoying a lunch in New Orleans.

We highly encourage you to take advantage of your professional development funds, even if you have to be creative to achieve your needs. MHRI funds this because they know you and your staff are worth the investment. Also, what can top a happy and engaged staff that feels their professional development needs are being met?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Celebrating Nurses

Nurses are integral part to patient care and to clinical research. At MHRI, we have dozens of research nurses and at MedStar, there are dozens more involved in research through their clinical roles.I'd like to take a moment this week to thank all the nurses who help us advance health at MedStar.

The American Nursing Association designated 2017 as the year of the healthy nurse with a theme of "Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body and Spirit".

Thank you to all nurses at MedStar for your commitment to patient care, in mind, body and spirit, and to advancing health through research.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Grin and a Nod

Friends and Colleagues,

It was only a grin and a nod as he returned to the dugout, but I could tell. My son just came off the mound from pitching a very difficult inning against one of the best teams in his league. These boys were big and swinging the bat hard. It was great seeing his pride as the coach gave him a pat on the back—it was even greater to see him immediately thank the outfielder who had a stunning catch to retire the sides. Baseball is certainly a team sport.

Last week, MedStar Health associates from across the system came together to share in the teams’ pride of advancing health through research, education and innovation at the annual MedStar Health Research Symposium. It was a wonderful event that celebrated the cutting edge research that is taking place every day in our hospitals and clinics (pictures and highlights available on Notes from Neil).

To give you a feel of the event, let me share a few ‘grins’ and ‘nods’ with you:

  1. Throughout the event, it was fantastic to see live tweets (#MedStarResearch17) from MedStar departments and hospitals proudly congratulating their associates on their research.
  2. For the first time, two nurses had the highest scoring poster presentation. When we notified Kathryn Curtain, a registered nurse in the burn unit at MedStar Washington Hospital Center that her study on mobility was the award winner, she was quick to point out that it was a collaborative effort with her follow nurse and researcher, Shannon Walters. Research is certainly a team sport too!
  3. It brought together our broader community, including those that help support our innovative research. I found it empowering to watch the interaction between a philanthropy guest and an investigator to learn something new… from each other!
  4. The Symposium helped make new connections with creative minds – an Mi2 associates (Allan Fong) showcases a social networking algorithm (they built to find connections between the 350 posters presented) to our system Chief Medical Officer.
  5. And it catalyzed a continued conversation, such as the email after the event from a hospital president to the resident who presented his award winning research - the congratulatory email led to a deeper email conversation and a planned future meeting.
When you multiply these stories by 800 in attendance, we are clearly moving toward a learning healthcare system that encourages everyone to think differently, make new discoveries and become lifelong learners.

As we close out 2017 Research Week, I’d like to thank each MedStar associate who contributes to research . From the investigators, to the analysts, to the coordinators, to those who support the research team, you each play an important role in advancing the health of our community. Thank you – now go ahead and let that ‘grin and nod’ come out as you take pride in what we are doing at MedStar.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Take 2 of #MedStarResearch17

I posted the embedded Tweets from the Sysmpoium yesterday, but wanted to make sure that my email-based readers were able to see the images. The images really show the scale of the event!

800+ researchers & leaders hear speak at symposium. Truly a major academic health system.

From @MedStarHealth
Congratulations research fellows!

Welcome to , keynote speaker Darrell G. Kitchen, MD, President and Chief Officer @AAMCtoday.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


This year marked the second year of live tweeting the MedStar Health Research Symposium through the @MedStarHealth twitter account. Looking back at the tweets, it builds out the story of the day and highlights how successful the event was!

A few stats, since we are researchers:
  • 34 mentions
  • 195 favorites
You can see the whole story by searching #MedStarResearch17 on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

6th Annual MedStar Research Symposium: Advancing Health and Knowledge

What another successful event!

In continuation of our record setting events, this year’s Research Symposium was the largest one to date! It was great to have residents and fellows join with investigators from across the system to present their research. With approximately 800 people attending and  350 abstract posters and case studies, everyone walked away energized and proud of the research at MedStar.

With abstracts from the breadth of research at MedStar, there was something of interest to everyone. Our exhibit spaces showed the depth of support for research at MedStar, with Philanthropy and Mi2 presenting the connections of their work to research. The exhibitor spaces showcase how we are supporting MedStar investigators across the system.

This was the first year that the Symposium was paired with a system-wide Resident Research Day. I was thrilled to welcome the top scoring residents and fellows to give oral presentations of their abstracts to their peers. The addition of case reports to the abstract presentations highlight the quality of research that our residents and fellows are completing.

We were joined by Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) for the keynote address. He shared some of the changes happening in Washington, how they can change academic medicine and how MedStar is ideally positioned for these changes.

I want to share my thanks and appreciation for all the investigators who submitted their research for the Symposium and to all who came out to support the investigative work that goes on throughout MedStar. My thanks to those associates who were on hand to host and support another great event.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Having Fun Getting Ready for the Symposium

What is that noise?  Is there a party going on?  Maybe a comic show since everyone is laughing so loud - I need to check it out.

You can imagine how surprised I was when I walked into the multi-purpose room at UTC yesterday to see a large group of associates working together to prepare for the Symposium! You would think they were having a new years' party given the laughter and fun.  Everyone from associates who only joined MHRI a few weeks ago to ones who have attended all 5 of the previous Symposiums were there, taking their lunchtime to come together to prep the materials needed for Monday.

While not a competition for speed, word has it that the team with Randy Estes, Deliyah Westley, and Angela Thomas finished their stack of bags first. Thanks to all the associates who stopped by throughout the afternoon to ensure everything is in readiness for Monday's symposium.

I hope you take the opportunity to join us on Monday, May 1, to see the results of the combined efforts of MHRI associates.

6th Annual MedStar Research Symposium
Educational Sessions begin at 1 pm
Resident & Fellow Oral Presenetaionts begin at 3 pm
Abstract poster presentations and keynote address begin at 4 pm

Bethesda North Marriott & Conference Center
5701 Marinelli Rd.,
North Bethesda, MD 20852

** The Bethesda North Marriott Conference Centers off-site parking is located at: 6130 Executive Blvd., Rockville, MD 20852.**

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quarterly Managers' Meeting: Associate Presentation

For this quarter's Manager's meeting, we invited one of our associates to join all the managers to present their research. We welcomed Bonnie Carney, a research associate in the Burn Research Lab at MedStar Washington Hospital Center to present her research.

Having associates at the Manager's meeting reminds our managers that research is a team sport and that each person on the team has an impact on the results. Thank you for joining us and presenting your research, Bonnie!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Making MHRI Their Professional Home

Last week, we hosted the first annual MHRI Service Award luncheon.

At MHRI, we are committed to engaging our associates and want them to make MHRI their professional home. In honor of those associates who have committed multiple years here (5, 10, 15, or 20 years of service), the Associate Engagement committee suggested that we take the time to recognize those associates at a lunch in their honor. This luncheon is in addition to the presentation of the service award and gift at the annual year-end celebration.

I was joined by executive team members Mary Anne Hinkson, Joan Bardlesy and Karen Wade to honor these associates on their 5 year work anniversary. It was great spending some time with associates who work across the system, hear about their area of work and having them come together and connect. Associates who work only floors from each other had the chance to meet and discuss their roles at MedStar Health Research Institute.

Thank you to the Associate Engagement Committee for suggesting this idea and the planning team who helped pull it off, and thank you to each 2016 Service Award recipient, who continue to support the work that MHRI conducts in order to advance health and support our communities.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Continuing Progress with OnCore

I’ve been trying to keep you updated on the status of the new MedStar Health and Georgetown University collaboration of the clinical trial management system (CTMS), OnCore. OnCore will serve as a workflow manager and repository of all clinical research administrative and management activities.

Announced in February 2016, we have been hard at work with a kick-off meeting and immersion training in April 2016, followed by the launch of two pilots, in oncology and cardiology, in late 2016. Our goal was to fully test and vet the system before rolling it out to all areas of clinical research.

Since our pilot go-live, we have made lots of progress in 2017. End user training for all Oncology Regulatory Coordinators and Clinical Research Coordinators (CRCs) took place in January, followed by the data migration of all Oncology studies and subjects to OnCore in February. End user training for all non-oncology Regulatory Coordinators and CRCs at MHRI also took place in February and March.Several studies, including newly activited studies are now going 'live' using OnCore to help manage the trial.

With end user training and the oncology data migration complete, we still have lots of work to do. For example, we are manually entering all new non-oncology studies into OnCore, along with calendars and budgets for each. So far, 25 studies are live in OnCore with calendars and budgets (23 studies in oncology, 2 cardiology studies), and we plan to add all active studies to OnCore by the end of the 2017 fiscal year in June.
Training and support activities for OnCore users continue, with twice-weekly training webinars and daily support calls.
Many thanks to those who have participated launching OnCore! It's a long process and we couldn't have made it this far without your contributions.

Associates can find more information on StarPort, including documentation, training tools, and dates for training. If you have any questions, please contact

Monday, April 3, 2017

Why Should You Attend the MedStar Health Research Symposium?

Friends and Colleagues,

Because it is both fun and educational!

That is the answer to the first reason you should attend the 2017 MedStar Health Research Symposium on May 1st. Curious to know even more reasons? Well read on for my top 10 list:

Because it is fun and educational – you will learn about all aspects of advancing health at MedStar Health.

To experience the new conference center venue with one (extremely large) grand ballroom and multiple break-out sessions (at the Conference Center at the North Bethesda Marriott).

To be a part of the first system-wide Resident Research Day held in conjunction with the Symposium and to watch the top residents and fellows present their studies in a state of the art amphitheater.

7: To connect with our MedStar Innovation Institute as they share their latest initiatives and show you how to integrate innovation into your everyday MedStar activities.

6: Attend one of 6 pre-symposium workshops to learn about the research resources, biostatistics boot camp, academic promotions and more.

5: To hear the latest about how the current political administration may affect the future of academic medicine from Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges as the keynote address.

4: To view the record-number of abstract presentations (well over 200) and dozens of fascinating case reports from across all disciplines at MedStar.

3: To collaborate and meet with researchers, investigators, clinicians and administrative leaders from across the system.

2: To see the impact of MedStar Health is having as an academic healthcare system, living at the cross-roads of academics and real life medicine, all embedded in our community.

1: To share in the pride – there is no way to describe how proud you will be to be part of MedStar Health when you are reminded of the impact our research is having on our community and on the health and wellness of people around the world.

Join me at the Symposium, at the North Bethesda Marriott on May 1, and see how my top ten list compares to your experience. What do you need to do -
Register today!

(If the above link does not work, copy and paste this address into your browser:


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Treat of Retreat

Guest Bloggers:
Vanita Aroda, MD
Scientific Director of the MedStar Community Clinical Research Center

Jason Umans, MD, PhD
Scientific Director of Basic and Translational Science Laboratories at MHRI

Research Scholars Retreat - Wye River – google maps – that terrible bridge – new scholars –  will they be as good as their applications-or better?  –– will they be able to work as a group across research and clinical disciplines?---will we be able to constructively guide their next steps – do they have the ‘fire in their bellies’ to succeed as investigators? –-do we have the scientific depth to mentor colleagues outside of our own disciplines and interests – will the magic that we depend upon actually occur?---shoot, did I pack exercise shoes?  
So many thoughts during the hour + drive to the annual kickoff Teaching and Research Scholars retreat, welcoming the new cohort of Scholars into our paired academic career development programs. But what was hard to imagine during that drive was actually how it would all turn out -- for with the annual kick-off Research Scholars retreat, there is a required element of faith, that when the right intentions and substance come together, constructive clarity will emerge. And indeed, it did.

A day and a half of intensive constructive peer review and guidance to ensure research proposals had legs, career arcs had thematic integrity, resources were available to support initial steps, and feedback was incorporated to plan the year with sessions that would be of most practical benefit -- what a feeling of accomplishment! The most inspirational moments were those unpredictable, yet palpable, ‘aha’ fireworks moments, where fine tweaks, iterative review and feedback resulted in meaningful changes and clarified direction to research and career plans. Those are the moments that textbooks, formal curricula, and seminars don’t automatically create, but what in-person connection, mentorship, and dynamic discussions can spark. 

As one of the scholars shared, “You were right, when you said that tomorrow I would feel different than today. In just a day, I found myself thinking differently, with another perspective. I feel inspired!”   

We are privileged to help guide this remarkable new group of colleagues from across our system, Cynthia DeKlotz, M. Carter Denny, Suhasini Kaushal, and Deliya Wesley as they begin to develop independent, extramurally-funded research careers at MedStar Health.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Every two years, MedStar undertakes an effort to reach out to associates and get their feedback. MHRI frequently has a very high percentage of associates complete the survey, but this year blows them all out of the water.

As of Monday, March 20, we have a 98% completion rate from our associates! Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to share with us at MedStar how you feel about working here.

In an effort to reach all associates, the deadline to complete the survey has been extended until midnight, Tuesday, March 21. If you are in the last 2% of MHRI associates, please take this opportunity to share with us in this confidential venue.

We use the results of the Associate Survey to gauge what initiatives MHRI can undertake to engage our associates. We’ve implemented career ladders and professional development funds due to the 2015 Survey feedback and are looking for your feedback to make changes in the next 2 years.

We remain committed to our associates and this survey is a valuable resource for MHRI and MedStar leadership to stay engaged with our associates.

Visit to complete your survey. The survey takes only 15 minutes to complete. Make sure you have time to complete the survey. Once you start the survey, you cannot save and return later.

The MedStar 2017 Associate Survey, Powered by You
March 1-21, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Clinical Trial Participant and Author

A few weeks ago, Heather Williams, Oncology Research Nurse Coordinator at MedStar Union Memorial received an email from one of her study patients. The patient, Dr. Kelsey Crowe, enrolled in the Breast Cancer GP2/AE37 Vaccine Trial in 2013. She had travelled from San Francisco to MUMH in Baltimore to receive her vaccine injections over the course of 2.5 years. She is now in follow up.

Kelsey contacted Heather to let her know that she had written a book and would be having a book signing at Kramerbooks in Washington, DC. Kelsey’s book is called “ There is No Good Card for That”. Since her study treatment she has also started a non profit called “Helping Each Other Out” (

Jean Flack, Manager for Oncology Research in Baltimore, and Heather Williams attended the book signing on March 1, 2017. Kelsey was delighted to see her study coordinators again plus Heather was able to do a follow up visit! It was a great experience for Jean and Heather as well – to see a former patient doing so much good work and being such an inspiration for others!
The trial that Kelsey was enrolled in was open at MedStar Union Memorial and enrolled several patients. One (Kelsey) traveled from San Francisco; others came from Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania to participate in the trial and two were local. Most of the patients found the study through breast cancer web sites. The study is now closed to enrollment while patients continue in follow up for collecting recurrence and survival data.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Learning On the Job

It’s been a while since there was a lunch and learn at MHRI, but they’ve made a comeback! Our first forays into this event were on Excel and SharePoint, and our most recent was on Outlook.

"Optimizing your Outlook" with Kelly Rosendall was attended by a packed house at University Town Center and more than 40 associates via WebEx. Kelly walked associates through some steps that they can take to simplify their email process and work their way to a clean inbox.

You can download her flyer with the steps to complete several different aspects of Outlook optimization here.
There are also specific instructions available for archiving calendar events, if you frequently find that you are running out of space in your email. These are from Clark Bean, our Director of Information Technology.

She also covered some basics on using the Office Communicator that is installed on all MedStar computers, with some great ideas for collaboration.

Thank you Kelly, for sharing your experience with us! If anyone has an idea for a future Lunch and Learn (or would like to share their expertise), please contact

Monday, March 6, 2017

Powered by Teamwork

Friends and Colleagues,

Move over business leaders, the scientists will show you how it works!

I can’t tell you how excited I was this week when I received the March issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) and on the cover was “The New Science of Teamwork.” In fact, the last two issues of HBR have included several articles linking science and business. 

In an interview with Helen Fisher, a biologic anthropologist (who has spent her career doing functional MRI research on brain systems that drive human emotions, personality and attraction) summed it up nicely by saying “If you understand how the brain works, you can reach anyone.” Fisher and others are now using their scientific findings to improve the workplace.
One article that really caught my attention was, “The Neuroscience of Trust: Management Behaviors that Foster Employee Engagement.” In it, the author describes how wild animals are known to have a higher level of oxytocin to signal when another animal is safe to approach and how stress will inhibit oxytocin release. This makes sense because when you are stressed out, you rarely want to interact with others. The author postulated that the same may apply to humans so they did a series of tests measuring oxytocin level in different scenarios. The results were fascinating. The experiments showed that having a sense of higher purpose stimulates oxytocin production, as does trust. Trust and purpose then mutually reinforce each other for even higher levels of oxytocin, which produces happiness.

Applying this to the workplace, joy on the job can come from doing purpose-driven work with a trusted team. This scenario leads to high engagement with a strong connection with one’s work and colleagues, being a real contributor to the team and enjoying ample chance to learn.

And there is more! The author shows that we can act on this data to make our workplace better. There are several effective ways to increase oxytocin levels: 1) recognizing excellence, 2) giving people discretion in how they do their work, 3) sharing information broadly through good communication, 4) building relationships and, 5) helping people develop personally and professionally. However, in order to know which of these areas to focus on, associates needs to provide input, advice and feedback. Well, the timing for this article could not be better.

The bi-annual MedStar Associate Survey just launched and asks your opinion in the following categories: Career Development and Training, Communications, Engagement, Leadership and Direction, Performance Management, Patient First, Supervision, Total Rewards, and Teamwork. This survey is online and only takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Visit now to voice your opinion.

Together, we will build a future at MHRI and MedStar Health that is focused and powered by you. And together, we will raise all of our oxytocin levels to new heights!

Thank you for all you have done to advance health and for your input on how to do this important work even more effectively and enjoyably!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

MedStar 2017 Associate Survey

As you prepare to take the MedStar 2017 Associate Survey, consider the things you enjoy most about your job and the opportunities we have to move forward.

While we launch the 2017 survey, it gives us a chance to look back at the 2015 results to identify where we made progress.  In the 2015 survey, associates were asked for the first time to comment on the one thing they enjoy most about working at MedStar Health. There were nearly 12,000 comments in response, providing invaluable insight to strong shared values across the organization. More than 2,000 comments mentioned patients,and nearly 7,000 referenced co-workers and teamwork. Here are a few representative comments from the thousands received.
  1. People and community: "The thing I enjoy the most about working at MedStar Health is the opportunity that MedStar gives me to care for the people of my community, support those that care for the patients directly, and ultimately improve health care and the industry as we know it today."
  2. Sense of purpose: “The most enjoyable thing is being a part of our purpose: helping to provide safe patient care. That is all tied to service that only comes from attention to the providers' and patients’ needs, teamwork, and understanding of financial limitations, and managing expectations in evaluating priorities."
  3. Opportunity to expand skills: “This job has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills in the healthcare industry. The diversity in the department is one of the greatest assets and keys to success. The interactions across the system have been rewarding and challenging at the same time. I can see where my role has an immediate impact on outcomes to promote patient care.”
  4. Passion for patient safety and patient care: "The associates who work for MedStar are passionate about both patient safety and patient care, regardless of their role within the organization. It helps to provide purpose and value to one’s profession. MedStar is an excellent company that offers much to the community and to those who serve within the organization, and I am proud to be a MedStar associate.”
What is the one thing you enjoy most about working at MedStar? Please take the time to let us know as part of the Associate Survey.  While the survey will capture opportunities for improvement, it is just as important to recognize the things you value to make sure they stay as part of our culture and organization.

The bi-annual Associate Enagement survey is open now and will run through March 19, 2017. Your feedback is anonymous and confidential—MedStar partners with Willis Towers Watson, an outside consulting firm, who receives and processes all surveys. No one from MedStar Health sees an individual’s completed survey. MedStar Health is Powered by You!

The MedStar 2017 Associate Survey is open now until March 19, 2017. Visit to complete your survey today!