Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Expanding Our Research

Many of our research publications (1,000 a year!) are on new pharmaceuticals, new devices or reviews methods of delivering care to help further the health of our community. It’s always a pleasure when I get to hear about something a little different from our research teams.

Richard F. Heitmiller, MD, Chief of Surgery, Program Director of General Surgery and Surgical Residency Program Director at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, was recently published in Annals of Surgery, with a biographical article on William Francis Rienhoff, Jr., MD. William Francis Rienhoff Jr. was a skilled and innovative surgeon whose career spanned over 4 decades of patient care, clinical investigative research, and surgical education. His professional life coincided with the early development of general and thoracic surgery to which he contributed.
Congratulations to Dr. Heitmiller on this publication! You can view the article here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Power of MedConnect and PowerTrials

Guest Blogger:
Saif Almushhadani
Clinical Research Coordinator, Baltimore Community Clinical Research Center

One of the challenges for a study coordinator is to constantly stay aware of all of our study participants so that we can be timely and thorough in our reporting. Adverse Events and Serious Adverse events typically need to be reported to the Sponsor, to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and in some cases, to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within a short period of time. The recently launched PowerTrials has a feature designed to help with this, and I was the first coordinator in my department who has benefitted from this feature.
Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash
A color change (red) in my MedConnect (PowerChart) account inbox caught my eye. It was an alert that one of my study participants had been admitted to the ER. I was able to then easily review and obtain information and records required for reporting to the sponsor in a timely manner. PowerTrials saved me so much time and helped me be on top of things to ensure the safety of our patients and adherence to trial protocols. In the future, I’m sure there will be other features which will help us have a smoother workflow.

Note from Neil: You can read about the new PowerTrials/MedConnect integration here. If you have any questions, contact

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Researching the Changes in Healthcare Budgeting

I loved this photo from
the Leader's Edge article!

It’s always great when the work our investigators are doing is recognized for its importance by outside publications.

Recently, Jessica Galarraga, MD, MPH (
one of our New Investigator Grant recipients for 2017) was interviewed with Jesse Pines, MD, by Leader’s Edge magazine. Leader's Edge is a publication of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers. “Global Budgets: Testing Ground" is a great overview of the impact of state-level policies that impact hospitals budgets. Payment reform is an ongoing process throughout the county, with Maryland leading as a testing/pilot for different policies.

Drs. Galarraga and Pines also recently collaborated on a blog post for the Health Affairs blog, “
The Challenging Transformation of Health Care Under Maryland’s Global Budgets”.

Thank you for your dedication to research and supporting this important topic, Dr. Galarraga.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Protecting a Different Breed of Sportsmen

Being the Baltimore region, horse racing holds a special place at the Pimlico track and Laural Park. Horse racing can be a dangerous sport: the jockeys weigh 105-120lbs and the horse weighs 1,200 lbs, with the horse running 40 mph!

Along with the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Nationals, Washington Capitals, and US Lacrosse, MedStar Sports Medicine is also the official medical team of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club, under the name of The Horsemen’s Health System. The partnership was established in 2015.

Not having known much about the sport, I found the video below full of information, showing the great work both of our clinicians and researchers with the racetrack staff. Concussion testing is important for other contact sports, so it’s great that we are translating our research into another sport! Andy Lincoln, ScD, MS, has been taking his research in concussion testing to create evidence-based protocols to protect and treat jockeys.

Check out the video to learn more about this partnership and the great work we are doing!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Appreciating the Important Things

Below is my monthly message for the March 2018 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It is so easy to take things for granted…until you don’t have them anymore!

Like many in our area, I felt the brunt of this week’s nor'easter. While we were spared the precipitation, approximately a half a million in our area lost power from the high winds.

Image from WTOP/Dave Dildine
On Friday night, after coming home to a dark house I quickly discovered a neighbor’s tree came down and took the electric wires and pole with it. Knowing this wouldn’t be a “quick fix,” I put on a few extra layers of clothes and settled in for the night.

Wow, it quickly became apparent all of the things we are dependent on electricity for. While I knew I would not have lights, all of a sudden I became acutely aware of how many ‘devices’ need to get charged each night, how much I got used to using my Amazon Echo and how I really enjoy a hot shower!

Lucky for me, at 2 am the power came back on but it was immediately followed by a loud explosion. The neighbor’s fallen pole had a transformer on it and when the electricity was turned on, it blew out the transformer and set the downed tree on fire! Something else we take for granted – the fire department! They were wonderful, showing up in a matter of minutes and containing the fire right away.

All of these events on Friday made me realize how much we take for granted, and how we are in a similar profession that most people have grown to expect to be there for them. Whether it is a simple earache or a life-threatening emergency, our community counts on us to be there when and where they need it. We can all take solace in knowing the importance of our work.

The silence of a house with no electricity also provided me time to reflect, and when considering what we take for granted, I immediately went to the people we get to work with. Earlier this week, I had dinner with two colleagues who I have had the privilege to work with for over 15 years. Despite all the changes in healthcare, and research at MedStar in particularly, we have all continued to grow and support each other through our personal and professional development. Now that is something none of us should take for granted!

Lastly, I feel very fortunate to be part of such a progressive healthcare system. One that leverages a distributive care delivery network to deliver the best of academics in a real-world setting that advances the health of the communities we serve. I am honored to be MedStar’s first recently appointed Chief Scientific Officer and look forward to working with you in creating a nationally acclaimed academic health system. This is something I certainly DON’T take for granted!

Stay warm, look around, and don’t forget to appreciate the important things that surround you.

Read Focus at

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

First in the World!

Last month, the team at Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center let me know that they are again the first to enroll a patient in a world-wide clinical trial!

Many studies for oncology research are conducted around the world to help the largest number of patients.  Estimated enrollment for “Phase III Randomized, Double-Blind Study of Pembrolizumab plus Epacadostat vs Pembrolizumab plus placebo as First-line Treatment in Patients with Metastatic NSCLC expressing high levels of PDL1” (NCT03322540) is more than 580 patients from around the world, at over 160 locations.

Suman Rao, MD, lead PI for the study at MedStar shared that without the commiment of the entire research team, including contracts, regulatory, and pharmacists is what made their team successful. “Special recognition goes to Jean Flack for her commitment to this study. She went the extra length and her persistence was what resulted in making this milestone.”

The Weinberg Cancer Institute was also the first in the world to enroll a patient in another Phase III oncology study in 2016. Congratulations and thank you to this dedicated, hard-working team for their commitment to advancing health through research!