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:


Sharing Our Knowledge

Guest Blogger: Eva Hochberger
Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Office of Research Development, Planning & Communications

In my role at MHRI, I do many things. A recent, new experience for me was attending an event in the community with associates from the MedStar Community Clinical Research Center.

The team was invited to present at a local church on diabetes and let attendees know about diabetes clinical research at MedStar. The group was engaged and wanted to know more about how to care for themselves and their families. The questions they asked really highlighted all the information out there and that our clinicians and associates want to share their knowledge!

The discussion was a reminder that because we work within healthcare and research fields, we interact daily with information regarding health that some people are unaware of. It’s important to share the knowledge, through community events and industry presentations, to support the health of the global community.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

MedStar #Patient2Consumer

Are you ready to do your part in helping MedStar stay on the cutting edge of innovation that advances health and wellness?

I know many researchers and investigators at MHRI are also innovators! Here is your chance to connect with others who have the same goal as you: to advance the health and wellness of our community.
MedStar Health is collaborating with global startup incubator and seed fund 1776 to host a startup competition called the MedStar #Patient2Consumer Challenge.

The effort is intended to activate the startup community throughout the country (not just in Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York!) to identify those innovative startups that have the potential to catalyze the transformation of any strategic aspect of MedStar’s health system in order to benefit our patients through more convenient, consumer-friendly care.

You can read the challenge annoucement or learn more on the challenge site. The deadline to submit your idea through the application portal is Sunday, June 11, 2017 (by 11:59 p.m. ET).

Partnering with the most promising emerging leaders enables us to further understand the innovation landscape and find—and realize—the next big thing.

The MedStar #Patient2Consumer Challenge is intended to focus and drive these outcomes. Thank you for helping connect us—whether that’s with a late-stage startup looking to take its work to the next level, or an earlier stage effort in need of further validation and/or domain expertise. (And if you are already working with a startup, recommend that they apply today!)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Building a Legacy

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
What is going to be your legacy?

Wow! That is a big, audacious question! It is also exactly what we were asked at the end of the MedStar Leader of the Future.

The MedStar Leader of the Future is a multi-part training course for all managers across MedStar Health. I just completed Day 4, which is dedicated to “Nurturing Talent”, a dynamic session in which we discussed everything from effective communication to mentorship. As participants shared their “legacy”, it was not surprising how it often connects to empowering associates. One of my favorites was “to build a world class organization, one associate at a time.”

So how can we accomplish our “legacy”? Well, to start, the scientist in me wants to first “collect data” – and that is exactly what the associate survey is all about! Thanks to all of you, we now have survey results from well over 85% of associates. This week, we will start digging into the results (and written comments) with the MHRI managers, and then we will present the survey results to everyone in Town Halls, running June 9th to 21st.

One area of opportunity that you helped us identify on the prior survey was professional development, a clear route to enhancing associate empowerment. I have no doubt that this is an area we will continue to focus on going forward. Peter Senge, an American systems scientist who is a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, said it best: “A learning organization is one in which people at all levels, individually and collectively, are continually increasing their capacity to produce results they really care about.”

This quote resonates with me on several levels. First, the importance that each person is an individual and that individual growth collectively results in organizational growth. Second, the organization must continually grow and become a "learning organization” because the world is constantly changing; there is no field where this is more evident than in research and healthcare. Lastly, we all want to do meaningful work that we truly care about and what can be more meaningful than advancing the health of those around us!

That leads me back to our professional home at MedStar. What makes MedStar what it is? What will it take for MedStar to recognize its full potential in the future? The answer becomes clear as I write this monthly message – It is each one of us, together. Together, we will continue building a learning environment that advances health.

Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.” - Les Brown

Thank you.


Read Focus at

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Art of Mentorship: “I Don’t Like Public Speaking"

Guest Blogger: Emily Paku
Program Coordinator,
Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science

The jitters right before the presentation, stuttering throughout the presentation, and a deep sigh of relief after the presentation--I’m sure I’m not the only one, right? In my role as Program Coordinator for the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science Multisite Study Support and Recruitment UnitI interact with colleagues from various institutions and backgrounds. What I wasn’t prepared for was the number of presentations I'd have to give to the community.

While preparing for one presentation, I discussed my nervousness with Tina Stanger, MHRI’s Director of Contracts & Grants Management. Months later, Tina asked me to co-present at the National Council of University Research Administrators – Region II Meeting.  Talk about tackling your fears head first!
Luckily, with encouragement and coaching from Tina, Becky Montalvo and Karen Wade, I utilized my professional development funds for the conference. Boy, was it a professionally developing experience!
I not only had the opportunity to sharpen my public speaking skills, but also the opportunity to network with research administrators in the Mid-Atlantic region. I attended sessions related to my current position and sessions that provided information I can use in the future.

Through this journey, Tina taught me tips and tricks for public speaking. Because of this, I wasn’t as nervous during the presentation and I even learned some methods for engaging the audience. As a result of the information I learned at MHRI and Tina’s encouragement to present, I was able to share best practices with the attendees. 

We were strongly encouraged to submit our presentation for the next NCURA FRA/PRA conference! Not only did chair and committee members for the conference take the time to let us know that our group was very engaged, attendees stopped by to express how much they learned and how they enjoyed the session.
Thanks to encouragement and coaching received from Tina, Becky & Karen, I took advantage of the opportunity to learn and grow not only as an MHRI associate, but as a clinical research professional. Whether it’s to sharpen a rarely used skill, learn about things related to your field from colleagues and experts across the country or to face your fears: Take advantage of the opportunity!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Honoring Memorial Day 2017

This Memorial Day, we honor the men and woman of our nation's Armed Forces who have proudly and honorably sacrificed for the freedom of Americans everywhere.

And, to those who continue to valiantly serve, and their families, we appreciate your unwavering commitment. 

For your service, bravery and sacrifice, thank you.

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.


Read Focus at

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.