MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital is Awarded the Spinal Cord Injury Model System

MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital / MHRI was awarded the prestigious Spinal Cord Injury Model System (SCIMS) grant funded by the Administration for Community Living’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Under the direction of Project Director, Suzanne Groah, MD, MSPH, the National Capital Spinal Cord Injury Model System at MedStar NRH is one of 14 centers of excellence nationwide.

The SCIMS program is the largest network of designated research centers devoted to Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) in the world. This network creates opportunities for collaboration between SCI clinicians and researchers from across the U.S. The system of rehabilitation care developed through this program encompasses a continuum of services that include emergency medical services, acute care services, acute medical rehabilitation services, and post-acute services.

This contract is for $2,224,742 over 5 years supporting the work at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital / MHRI.

Dr. Groah says, "I am SUPER EXCITED about the projects that we are now funded to conduct in this SCI Model System. I feel very strongly that we have the potential to really move the needle for people with spinal cord injury with this work."

Thank you to everyone involved and keep up the good work!

MedStar Research AIDE Series on Research Returns!

MedStar Research AIDE (anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, equity) is continuing their recurring "Series on Research and Health Equity" events for associates to attend. As everyone returns from their summer vacations, AIDE is excited to announce their event schedule for September and October 2021 with more to come!

September 14 - 12pm EST
MedStar National Rehabilitation Network Equitable Practice Interest Committee (EPIC) Community Conversations on Microaggressions
Speakers: Dr. Mandy Rounds, Harsh Thakkar and Dr. Victor James
Register Here.

October 11 - 1pm EST/10am PST
Celebrate Indigenous People's Day 
Speakers: Cynthia West, Celina Garza and the Indigenous Arizona Field Research Team

October 26 - 12pm EST
Honoring Henrietta Lacks
Speakers: Mary Anne Hinkson and Petros Okubagzi

Stay tuned for calendar invitations! We hope you can join us!

If you have any research topics or studies you want to learn more about, please email

If you wish to share any feedback, want to get involved, or have suggestions or questions, please email or visit MedStar Research AIDE on StarPort 

Learning Lessons of Ambigility

Below is my monthly message for the September 2021 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


Happy Labor Day everyone!

At this time of year, we are usually returning to work after a holiday weekend, welcoming each other back from summer vacation and sharing hallway stories about the kids going back to school.

However, this year we find ourselves still in a constant state of flux with more uncertainty.  It is unsettling. Masked or unmasked?  Who is vaccinated and who is not?  Boosters soon or not? What about the unvaccinated kids?  Delta, Lambda, [fill in the next variant].  Oh, and if the pandemic was not enough, there is extreme weather with tornadoes, floods, and fires.  How can we cope with the anxiety and stress that this uncertainty gives us?

As a scientist that recognizes the importance of emotions and heart, I like to break things down to better understand them before drawing conclusions about ‘treatment’. Anxiety starts to build up as we try to anticipate what lies ahead.  We do this by plugging in all we think we know about today’s reality. But the truth is we don’t have ‘all the data’ since the situation continues to evolve.  This immerses us into a state of greater ambiguity which only further elevates anxiety.

The good news is we are learning to build new muscles of resilience and flexibility.  That includes becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It also comes with recognizing what we have the ability to change and accept what we cannot control.  I like the adage that a good sailor never knows which way the wind will blow but can always get to their destination. However, as the summer ends and we are well into the second half of 2021, it feels like this ‘storm’ is not ending and the world’s relentless changes and ambiguity are testing our endurance and agility to change. MedStar Health recognizes the impact of this and strongly encourages the use of the
support services that are available with this link
.   Remember we are all in this together.

Ambigility is a new [made-up] word that is circulating to describe the skills we need to get through these times of relentless change. It combines the words ambiguity with the need for greater agility.  “Ambi” derives from Latin, meaning both. Ambiguity means things could move in both (or many different) directions. Ambivalence means we feel equally strong with both solutions.  Just like the batter who can hit from both sides of the plate, we all should become ambidextrous - where strength meets flexibility. Ambigility is the superpower to pull together this concept of 1) pivoting with agility and strength, 2) recognizing what we can’t control and 3) focusing on using our experience and knowledge to make things work despite the changes.

In 2020, MHRI has seen a tremendous increase in COVID19 research. This is a tribute to the dedication and perseverance of our research teams and associates.  In 2021, we are pivoting and demonstrating our agility with the emergence of de-centralized clinical trials, research using new ‘digital health’ technologies, harnessing the power of ‘big data’ and data analytics across health systems and more patient centered approaches to in-home research.   We are accepting that what worked yesterday is different than what we need today or even tomorrow – Ambigility  is the nature of a learning healthcare system and will become our superpower to adapt to whatever comes our way! We, as a team, bring together this ambigility and together form an organization that learns together, adapts and thrives.

Stay strong, agile and safe everyone and despite the challenges, welcome back from the summer!  And…. I still want to hear about your summer adventures!

With gratitude,


Read Focus online at