Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Georgetwon Med Student Summer Research Capstone

Tuesday night marked the closing of another successful summer of research for many of our rising second-year medical students at Georgetown.
Between MHRI, MedStar Health Academic Affairs, and Georgetown University, nearly 75 students received the opportunity to conduct research over their 8-week summer break between the first and second year of medical school. This research culminated in a capstone event at the French Embassy, with MedStar and Georgetown leadership in attendance.

I was honored to introduce the speakers who presented their research to the group in the auditorium. Each time they shared their summer research experience, I was reminded of my first forays into research between my first two years of medical school and how much it impacted the rest of professional life.

Congratulations to all students on a successful research project and I hope that this summer opened the door for all of you into fulfillment of research and scientific inquiry that will carry with you throughout your careers.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Monthly MCCRC Staff Meeting

I had the pleasure of attending the monthly MedStar Community Clinical Research Center (MCCRC) staff meeting this week. While I was invited because there was a recent change in principal investigator, I also wanted to answer questions about the day-to-day issues at MCCRC.  What I was not expecting was for people to ask me how I ended up in research and at MedStar.

While that sorry is too long for this blog, I enjoyed sharing it - my travels as a clinician, an educator, an investigator and now in administration. Since MCCRC does outpatient research, one highlight in my career that seemed to resonate with the group was my wild 'ride' when I got involved in a diet pill study (20 years ago!) that went from first patient enrolled to New England Journal of Medicine in just one year! 

Becky K. Montalvo, Executive Director of MCCRC, brings together her associates from Baltimore, UTC and Capital Hill each month to not only share administrative updates with her team, but also to bring in another MHRI associates to share how they developed into their current role. It’s a great view of professional development from the ground up. Thanks for the invite and it was great to share!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Confronting challenges together

Below is my monthly message for the September 2017 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Friends and Colleagues,

Confronting challenges together…

Even as the sun came out today and we enjoy our Labor Day weekend, a piece of us remains with those struggling with unimaginable challenges.

Our hearts go out to those in Texas struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Seeing the devastating images on the news are so tragic, that at times they seem beyond belief. As a society with 24/7 news feeds of everything that happens in the world, we are at risk of becoming desensitized to tragedy. However, it only takes one ‘touch’ to bring it back home and remind us just how real it is.

This past week, I was ‘touched’ by two very different tragedies – Hurricane Harvey and terrorism in Barcelona.

One of many photos from the NY Times
As this past week progressed, we realized that the impact of Harvey was mounting. Families lost their houses, their belongings, their pets and in some cases, their loved ones. It is heartbreaking and the impact becomes very real when you know someone personally affected. During the week, I was in contact with many of my cardiology friends and colleagues from Houston. One colleague was at the same international conference as me and was desperately trying to get in contact his family while trying to figure out how to get back home. One of MHRI’s Board of Directors shared how he feared for his family’s safety as he urgently evacuated his house. Luckily, all my friends are safe and in a dry place, but none are in their homes and their lives will be very different for the foreseeable future.

While the effects of the storm are terrible, the response from individuals and our broader community has been incredible. I am so proud how one colleague is buying a suit for someone’s son in Houston who lost everything so that he can go back to work. I am also so proud that, at the direction of Ken Samet and on behalf of our more than 30,000 associates, MedStar made a significant donation to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief. If we look beyond our own system, the scientific community across the nation is also stepping up to lend a hand. It is truly gratifying to see the outpouring of support among those at MedStar and the research community, aiding institutions and residents impacted by the floods.

I mentioned my friend from Houston I saw at the largest international cardiology conference last week–well, that conference was in Barcelona! These conferences are planned several years ahead and there we were, in the European city where one week ago there was a terrible terror attack. On the day I arrived, I saw a sea of impromptu memorials (flowers, candles and stuffed animals as far as the eye could see) and a march of over 500,000 people with the King of Spain. The theme of the rally was No Tinc Por which means I’m Not Afraid. People from across Europe came together to help the people of Barcelona put life back on track after this unimaginable catastrophe.

Image from El Rotativo
Life is full of challenges. It is during these very unfortunate, extreme ‘challenges’ that we see the unparalleled strength of coming together. We do it out of necessity. We do it out of humanity. We do it because it empowers us to make a difference in the lives of others. Coming together is remarkably strong.  We need to harness that strength more often and harness that strength without waiting to be motivated by a disaster.

As we enter the fall, I look forward to coming together, advancing health and making a difference in the lives of others with you.


Read Focus at

Monday, August 21, 2017

View the Eclipse

It was a gathering in the parking lot today at UTC for the eclipse. While not everyone had their own pair of glasses, everyone was willing to share.

A few intrepid associates (Andrew Carter & Amy Criputi of Contracts & Grants) made some viewers out of office boxes and scavenged tin foil.

Associates were out at MedStar Washington Hospital Center too!

The best photo of the eclipse came from Katie Carlin, Director of Research Development, Planning and Communications!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

3 Weiss-men's

Earlier this summer, I posted a short piece with summer greetings and received many comments and requests to see more family pictures.

Well, a few weeks ago my son and I went to Florida to visit my parents so we decided to take this picture of the 3 generations of male Weissmans (with a 70 year span).  It was a great visits (and my Mom, a regular reader of this blog!) says this is a nice picture so here it is.....

Hope you all are having a good summer and enjoy the last few weeks with family and friends.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Indivumed Partnership Expands MHRI's Reach of Research

Collaboration takes many forms. Team members collaborate within a department and departments work together across MedStar.  These collaborations help us forward our vision to advance health for our patients today and tomorrow.

I was pleased to announce last week that MHRI formed a new collaboration with Indivumed, a Germany-based oncology company that helps us conduct research that individualize anti-cancer medical therapies through state-of-the-art bio-specimen collection, preservation and analysis.

This new agreement brings this state-of-the-art bio-specimen partnership to all MedStar hospitals so it can be applied for all cancer patients and their tumors.  We had some very productive kick-off organizational meetings with oncology, surgery and pathology leaders from across the system.

The full press release can be read here. Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of Georgetown Lombardi and Director of MedStar’s integrated cancer network, also posted about this great partnership on his blog.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lose the Wait

According to a recent study, more than half of patients enjoyed virtual visits than in person visits to their doctor's office. The survey study, run by Health Industry Distributor Association, found that 53% of respondants would consider using telemedicine, with 18% having already used it. 41% of respondents in the survey enjoyed the convience of a virtual vists and 54% reported that they thought it was better than an office visit.

MedStar Health launched their option for virtual vists, MedStar eVisit, in 2016. From first hand reviews, I've heard great things about this program. While I haven’t yet personally use MedStar eVisit myself, I’ve heard many positive things from our associates. It’s great to know that even if we are traveling away from our community, we are able to take care of our health. I got the email below and enjoyed the play on words and wanted to share it with you.

Lose the Wait: Use MedStar eVisit Today

Being sick shouldn’t be about waiting—it should be about getting the care you need, when and where you need it. Skip waiting: for an appointment, in traffic, in the waiting room, in the exam room, and at the pharmacy. With MedStar eVisit, you can be seen for common illnesses within five minutes, from the comfort of your own home, and your prescriptions are sent to your preferred pharmacy electronically so you can feel better, faster.

Receive fast care for common illnesses anytime, anywhere with MedStar eVisit. To enroll in and/or use MedStar eVisit, download the free iOS or Android mobile app, “MedStar eVisit” or visit Complete the steps within the mobile app and/or web.

Have you tried MedStar eVisit?  We want to hear about your experience! Please complete the survey sent following your visit, and send feedback to

Monday, August 7, 2017

Selfless Giving

Below is my monthly message for the August 2017 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
Friends and Colleagues,
Did you know that:
  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood?
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.?
  • A single car accident can result in the need for as many as 100 pints of blood? 
Imagine what would happen if no one gave blood. We have a health care system that is dependent on the selfless gifts from millions of people each year.
And blood is not the only selfless gift medicine is dependent on. In a recent survey of over 1000 Americans, 75% felt that taking part in a clinical trial is as valuable to our health care system as giving blood. An overwhelming majority of Americans (86%!) also agree that health care professionals should discuss clinical trials with patients as part of their standard of care. Standard of care – that is a strong statement! Traditionally, clinical research was viewed as something for only those at elite academic hospitals or only for patients with severe illnesses but what this recent study says is that the majority of Americans want access to and information on clinical trials on a routine basis.
The study also explored the factors that determine if someone chooses to participate in a clinical trial. Not surprisingly, the most important factor is if they are asked by someone they trust (74%). Nearly two-thirds (64%) say a doctor or health care provider is the most reliable source for the clinical trial information but, the sad part, is that only 18% said they or someone in their family has ever been asked to participate.
And here is the part that struck me the most – when asked about the factors important to you in participating in a clinical trial, 87% felt it was an opportunity to improve the health of others - A truly selfless act.
At MedStar Health, we are in an ideal situation to respond by connecting our patients to  research. We sit at the crossroads of academics and real world medicine and we have built an infrastructure to bring research into a diverse set of clinical environments. This fall, we will be incorporating research into our electronic health records (Cerner’s PowerTrials) to further enhance communication and collaboration between the clinical and research teams and thus empower every clinician with access to trials across MedStar Health.
MedStar is committed to providing the care our patients need and the care that they want. Thank you for being part of our commitment to advancing health and I hope you are enjoying this beautiful summer weekend.
Read Focus at

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sharing a 'First' in Publications for Me

As an active cardiovascular investigator, I've written over 200 papers that have subsequently been published in peer-review medical journals. So why am I so excited to share with you a recent publication?  Well, because it is a first for me: a paper about the role of scientific in a health care business publication! 

Last month I was honored to collaborate with Stephen R.T. Evans, MD, executive VP for medical affairs and chief medical officer for MedStar Health to write a paper on the role of science and academics in a health care system which was published in Modern Healthcare. This is one of the most widely read publication by health care administrators, with 71,000 weekly print subscribers and 511,000 unique monthly visitors to their web e-version.

The paper, entitled,"Integrated 'academic health system' offers new lessons for improving care delivery", highlights how we see academics helping to drive what is needed in the future of healthcare. If you attended an MHRI Spring 2016 Town Hall, you heard the beginnings of this concept: that healthcare is changing from academic medical centers to systems that need to focus on all aspects of health - thus a transformation from an academic MEDICAL center to an academic HEALTH system.

We are continuing to drive change at MedStar and get recognition for our approach!

Monday, July 31, 2017

MHRI Teaches "We Want to Know" for Patient Safety in Real Time

Each week, MedStar leaders and associates receive a "Good Catch of the Week". I was pleased to see that this week's safety catch was from a member of our health services research team, working on our We Want to Know program.
Integrating patients and families into patient safety is a necessity if we want to continue moving towards zero harm. The We Want to Know research program currently being deployed across MedStar in support of the Interdisciplinary Model of Care (IMOC) efforts is designed to make it easy for patients and their family members to speak-up when care isn't going as well as they expected. Talk about Deference to Expertise!!  (Reminder - Deference to Expertise is one of the five principles of HROs that says we defer to the person with the most knowledge relevant to the issue being confronted).

Our patients and our families often have the most knowledge but too often in healthcare, we forget this. By proactively leveraging patient and family knowledge through the We Want to Know program, we continue to make care better for our patients.

Learn more about the We Want to Know progam at MedStar:

Today's Good Catch is from MedStar Health Research Institute

Guest Author: Kimberly L. Cockey, Quality and Safety Research

As the We Want to Know (WWTK) Specialist at Franklin Square, I have the privilege of speaking to our many diverse patients and their families. Following is a story that came from a recent WWTK interview and highlights what is special about MedStar. 

I was having a typical day, going from room to room, asking patients how they felt about their care. In one particular room, I received a polite invitation from a small voice in the recliner across the room. I introduced myself and the WWTK program, and asked the patient about her stay. She said she was happy with her care, and reported that her care team was doing a great job. What she was really concerned about was whether or not she would be discharged by Friday.  

"You see," she said, "Friday is my 100th birthday, and I must be out of here because I have plans to celebrate." She was very excited as she filled me in on her birthday plans. She then proudly showed off a large birthday card that was signed by everyone at her church. 

At the end of the day, I documented my interview with the patient in an email to unit and hospital leadership. Based on a single sentence about her birthday in my email, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center associates rallied to celebrate her birthday. Hospital leadership requested a cake, Food and Nutrition Services ordered it, and leaders and staff came together to present her with the cake and sing "Happy Birthday." She received well wishes from all over the hospital. I am happy to report that the patient was discharged in time to make it to her evening festivities.

Her family shared with us the following message: "Thank you for making her 100th birthday special...and for getting her transferred and settled for the family celebration. Also for the treatment and care she received during her stay with you."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

More Learning at Lunch!

As I’ve posted before, we are building out our community of continuous learning at MHRI through lunch and learn sessions. Our latest one was held on two different days, at the UTC office and at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.

Tina Stanger and Emily Paku presented this at a recent conference they attended. Thanks for bringing it to us! “Clinical Trials Jeopardy” was for all associates to learn about other aspects of clinical research, from budgets and contracts to recruitment. A fun way to learn, it brought associates together to learn!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Welcoming New Associates to MHRI

Following the 2013 survey, we implemented the "New Hire Breakfast" as a way to engage associates in their first few months with MHRI. I wrote about the breakfast at the launch of the event, and then again two years ago.  And now, four years later, we are still at it but with its new, updated format.

When we started the New Hire Breakfast, we gave everyone a chance to introduce themselves, share what was going well and open up for suggestions of what we can do to improve the first few weeks at MedStar.  We learned a lot and improved the 'on-boarding' process using this informatiion.  We also used the time to share more information about MedStar and reserach at MedStar.  While everyone seemed to appreciate it, what happened is that it turned into another 'lecture' by me so we turned things around!  Now, the new associates meet without me in the room, get to know each other and formulate a bunch of questions for me - then I come into the room and one of the senior MHRI leaders speaks on behalf of the group by drilling me with questions - from my favorite hobbys and pastimes to work-related questions about the direction of MHRI.  It was fun and I definately had some good and difficult questions!

It was great to sit down and meet our new associates, along with Mary Anne Hinkson, Mel Goodrich, Kathi Edwards and Karen Wade  We have a great team and it just continues to get better every day!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Celebrating Summer with Scholarship Recipients

MedStar Academic Affairs and Medstar Health Research Institute hosted a BBQ last weekend for the Georgetown medical students in this year’s Summer Research Scholarship Program and their mentors, as well as the past and present MedStar Teaching & Research Scholars.

The event was held in North Beach at the Herrington Harbor Marine Resort– somewhat of a secret oasis in Maryland. Students, scholars and faculty came out with their families and enjoyed a beautiful day together outside the confines their various work environments. In addition to enjoying the delicious food and stimulating conversations, some took to the beach, while others took advantage of amenities such as kayaking, paddleboards and cornhole. There was fun to be had for adults and children alike! 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer Greetings from the Weissman's

Can you believe we are already half way through July?  Where is the summer going?

Well, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer with family and friends. People have asked about updates from my son and our 2 year old Golden Retriever so I will send along this picture of them cruising along in the kayak trying to stay cool. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Building Cathedrals

Guest Blogger: Chad League
Manager, Office of Contracts and Grants Management, Medstar Health Research Institute

It’s 7pm and I’m sitting in a hotel room on the 18th. floor, looking over slides that I will have to present in a little over twelve hours. Not even twelve hours ago, I found out that one of our co-presenters had to back out, and that many of her slides were now assigned to me. Despite having to publicly speak over and over again in law school, I have been out of practice. On top of that, I’m not just representing myself anymore. I’m representing a reputable organization to a number of potential and current business partners. I need to knock this out of the park!

As I prepare, I recall an anecdote that Dr. Weissman shared at an MHRI event when I first started – the stonecutter parable. Do I want to get up there and represent to the audience that I’m just cutting stone for a living, that all I do is collect a paycheck with no real investment into my craft? Or do I want to get up there and explain to them how I am trying to build a Notre Dame, how most of our contracts hinge on subject injury and indemnification language? How they are typically the cornerstones of every agreement? Naturally, my desire is for the latter. First thing is first though – don’t throw up.

Over four hours, two industry colleagues and I explain the importance of crafting indemnification and subject injury clauses. How every word matters, how the use of certain words might impact liability in unimaginable ways. Throughout the presentation, the audience stayed engaged, asked questions, and many people came up to us to introduce themselves, hand out business cards, and seek advice. Those people were from across the research industry, from pharma, sites and CROs. They were contracts administrators, budget analysts, attorneys, project managers.

In these meetings, it dawned on me how important getting out there and presenting at these conferences is for us at MHRI. Speaking in front of others who look to you for advice and innovative approaches, even in the field of research administration/contracts negotiation, puts us at the forefront of the industry. It makes us appear the expert stonecutter – and all of the other stonecutters in the room will want our advice on how to build cathedrals in a similar manner. The connections also happened to Tina after her presentations and after my workshop on subject injury and indemnification. I’m sure it happens to many other representatives from MedStar who present at conferences.

As MHRI and MedStar representatives venture out to these conferences and present, members of the industry will begin to view us as a prevalent force in clinical research. The greater a presence that we can sustain, the more likely it is that our industry partners, both current and potential, will realize that MedStar Health Research Institute is comprised of highly reputable, highly knowledgeable expert stonecutters.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Planning for a Central Recruitment Center

Last week I was joined by associates from across MHRI for a working dinner to plan for a central Recruitment Center.  This was the second meeting of this planning group. At the first meeting, we decided on three potential work streams that a central recruitment center can add value for the research teams - 1) Administrative/Call Center, 2) EHR/Cohort identification and 3) Internal and External Communications.  At this meeting, each work stream presented the results of their individual groups' effort. During the meeting, we provided feedback to each group and identified next steps to take.

I am excited about the potential of this centralized resource for research teams.  Once it comes to full fruition, having a central call center and place to help place 'marketing' material will be very helpful identifing qualified paitents for clinical trials. Furthermore, this effort will fit perfectly into our partnership with Georgetown through the CTSA's Research Participant Recruitment Unit.

I look forward to the progress we will make over the next few months.  While there is a lot of work to be done, we are off to a great start so stay tuned as we roll out different aspects during the upcoming academic year!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Spring Town Halls: Thanks to Our Engaged Associates!

Thank you to everyone who attended a spring town hall. It’s great to see all of you and let you know where MHRI stands and our future goals.

We focused on the results from the Associate Engagement Survey, taking the time to ask for your feedback on what we can view as opportunities and how to best support our associates in all roles. Senior leadership will be looking closely as the responses submitted to Slido so that we can best serve the needs of our associates.

We also took a moment to introduce new members of the MHRI associate family in our Human Resources department. Thanks to Mel Goodrich, Corporate Director of Human Resources, and Kathi Edwards, Human Resources Business Partner, for joining us at all our town halls to meet associates.

We always welcome feedback on how we can support you. You can use the StarPort 2-Way Communication Portal or email to share your thoughts, comments, questions and concerns.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Doing Good

Below is my monthly message for the July 2017 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Friends and Colleagues,

“We choose to do good for a living.”

This past Friday, the day before a holiday weekend, the FBI had ‘Family Day’ for FBI employees from across the Washington area. In an unofficial show of support for former FBI Director James Comey, people wore matching #ComeyIsMyHomey shirts (see On the back was a quote from Comey that said, “We choose to do good for a living.”

All politics aside, that quote caught my attention. It immediately stirred up emotions and provoked thought. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to know that the purpose of their work is to “do good for a living.”

During this holiday, as the nation celebrates it birthday, I take solace in knowing that I choose to do good for a living.  I choose to do this meaningful work with wonderful people who are also dedicated to this wholesome path. It should therefore come as no surprise that, as shared at MHRI Town Halls across the system, that 92% of MHRI associates on the recent Associate Survey said “I am proud to be a part of MedStar Health.”  Together we are advancing health for our community both today and tomorrow. I could not be prouder or more grateful.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 4th of July weekend and enjoy the summer with their family and friends.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Independence Day 2017

MHRI celebrates the freedom and independence of all Americans. As we celebrate our nation's freedom, we honor the courageous men and women dedicated to preserving it. I hope you all have a great holiday weekend and enjoy the time with your family and friends.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Presenting MHRI's Diabetes Research

Guest Blogger:
Joan Bardsely MBA, RN CDE FAADE
Assistant Vice President, Special Projects

MHRI was well represented at the 2017 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions recently held in San Diego!

Carine Nassar, RD, CDE, did a fabulous job as part of a panel to discuss the challenges of inpatient management of diabetes. She featured the Diabetes Pathway and provided practical guidance on what worked and what didn’t in a real world setting. Michelle Magee, MD, Director of the MedStar Diabetes Institute, presented to an enthusiastic reception the results of a collaborative PCORI grant on the role of the community health worker in the management and education of the community living with diabetes.

In addition to these presentations, there were multiple poster presentations from MHRI, including by Vanita Aroda, MD, Director of the MCCRC, on study performed at MHRI regarding various insulin preparation and usage to optimize control of diabetes. I was honored to present a poster on using implementation strategies to advance the joint position statement on the four critical times to refer for diabetes education.

All in all, MHRI continues to showcase to the international community the important work we do to advance health!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Research as an Emissary

If a picture paints a thousand words, what does a video give us? 

I was ecstatic to see the highlights video from the 2017 MedStar Health Research Symposium and share it with MHRI associates at our spring town halls.

For those who could not attend the Symposium, this video really gives you a feel for the symposium events and the commitment that MedStar Health make to advancing health. I hope you enjoy and share this video with your colleagues.

I couldn't say it better than this.

If you'd like to share the video, it can also be found on the MedStar Health YouTube channel at this link:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quarterly Manager's Meeting: Engaging Everyone

At the beginning of the month, MHRI manager's came together for the quarterly manager's meeting. Each meeting has a different focus, and this sesssion was focused on the results of the 2017 Engagement Survey.

Stephen R.T. Evans, MD, executive vice president for Medical Affairs and chief medical officer for MedStar Health started the day out, setting the stage for the importance of the associate survey. After that, Jill Perkins, PhD, from Willis Towers Watson, the company that created, managed and analyzed the associate survey shared the results.

As we reviewed the results, managers chimed in with their thoughts and feedback. The conversation was engaging and allowed us to recongize the strengths and opportunities for MHRI and MedStar Health.

We took the time to award three groups for the highest associate engagement and greatest increase and then Dr. Evan's presented MHRI with an award for our overall results.

There was a lot of conversation regarding the results and what we can do to continue making MHRI a great place to work. The next step is for managers to get their results and share it with each department. I look forward to seeing action plans go into place!

Here are some pictures from the meeting: