Friday, September 22, 2017

Sailing into a MedStar Teaching and Research Scholars Retreat

Well, this was a first for me! Soon after arriving at a conference center in Wye River (just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge) for the MedStar Teaching and Research Scholars off-site meeting, we were asked to gather up for a "team building" experience. We were then led down to the dock where a sailboat was waiting to take us out on the calm waters. It was a perfect evening and a great way to kick off a 2-day educational conference. If only all meetings could start like this!

After we came back in from sailing, we got down to work with presentations and conversation about educational scholarship. Then the first year Teaching Scholars presented their work in progress for feedback. It should be a great few days!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Georgetown 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