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  • January 18, 2022

    By MedStar Team

    Structural racism is one of the most pressing issues facing healthcare today.  Unfortunately, academic medicine historically exacerbating the exploitation of vulnerable communities to achieve educational and research goals, especially in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. For example, many traditional research practices among marginalized communities highlight and, in most cases, magnify inequities in care. These can include:   

    • Community members are under informed about research methods and strategies. 

    • Researchers prioritize extraction of information from communities rather than community ownership of information.

    • Researchers accrue funding, prestige, and publications (in which academics’ voices predominate over the narrative perspective of community members) without similar accrual to participating communities.  

    • Researchers’ understanding of questions to be answered may lack cultural context because of their incomplete comprehension of community conditions.  

    The relationship between research institutions and many BIPOC communities is estranged and needs mending to dismantle racial disparities and inequitable research practices. As the area’s largest healthcare provider, MedStar Health is committed to do the work needed to address these issues in everything we do in order to advance health equity for everyone we serve.

    “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    (March 25, 1966 speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights)


    Advancing Health Equity in Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Research

    MedStar Health investigators Arrealia Gavins, Celene E. Domitrovich, Christina Morris, Jessica X. Ouyang, and Matthew G. Biel recently published research emphasizing the need to co-learn and to co-develop research with community members themselves to prioritize benefits for both participants and researchers. “Advancing Antiracism in Community-Based Research Practices in Early Childhood and Family Mental Health” was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. This work was done through the Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN),  a community-based partnership between two academic medical centers (MedStar Georgetown University Hospital & Children’s National Health System) and several community-based organizations in Washington, DC that strives to provide support to families through caregiver and child mental health services, family peer support, child social and emotional learning, initiatives to address social determinants of physical and mental health for families, and place-based support to families within select communities.  

    In this study, researchers found that to begin to undo the inherent inequities within academic medical research, particularly in studies involving children and caregivers, investigators need to consider how best to build equitable, long-term partnerships with communities through Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) or more specifically, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR). CBPR offers an alternative to traditional non-participatory research with a collaborative, strengths-based orientation that equitably involves researchers, community members and other stakeholders in all phases of research while embracing their unique expertise. 

    Recently documented increasing rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide in BIPOC youth, compounded by the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on BIPOC communities, has heightened the urgency for progress in community-based research.

    The research team started to utilize CBPR practices to advance antiracism in their clinical research work in child and family health along with working with BIPOC communities. This approach to integrate CBPR practices into the development, implementation, and evaluation of community-based interventions seeks to support early childhood mental health in primarily Black communities in Washington, DC. 

    Making an Impact: Insights & Lessons Learned from CBPR

    Through this work of the EICN, the research team found five valuable lessons from applying CBRP principles to research collaborations in community settings. 

    Intervention Practices

    Lessons Learned and Applied

    ECIN launched a group-based mindfulness parenting program to explore how to support the emotional health of parents at a Head Start early education center with the intention to reduce caregiver stress and enhance caregiver-child relationships.


    Lesson 1: Invest the time to build trusting relationships

    Providers set up several discussion groups with community partners and medical center-based researchers to review proposed assessment tools to be used with children and families receiving psychotherapy services.

    Lesson 2: Involve community partners in the development of the intervention theory of change and measurement strategy


    Clinical staff organized peer specialists to provide support to families with young children through 3 evidence-based strategies: enhancing parents’ knowledge about caregiving with young children;optimizingparent use of existing resources; and increasing parents’ access to social supports.


    Lesson 3: Create interventions in partnership with community members

    Clinical staff providedearly childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) in preschool classrooms to enhance educators’capacitiesto support early childhood development and to recognize early signs of mental health concerns

    Lesson 4: Interpret findings in partnership with community members

    ECIN membersparticipatedin formal antiracism training with external experts to incorporate antiracism principles into ECIN’s operations and into the culture of the Network. ECIN formed a Racial Equity Community of Practice (RECOP), that supports 8 intervention teams in developing practices that advance racial equity goals.

    Lesson 5: Embed an antiracism focus in research structures and processes


    The research team found this community-based approach to be helpful in conducting research that will have a long-lasting impact on not only the community, but also on members of the research team. During a time where BIPOC families are experiencing the effect of COVID-related deaths and grief, unemployment, housing instability, and police violence; researchers have an opportunity to be engaged in the community and work to eliminate racial inequities within academic medicine and research. 

    Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2021.06.018

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  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Please mark your calendars for Thursday, May 30, 2019, to attend the 8th Annual MedStar Health Research Symposium, at the Bethesda North Marriott & Conference Center.

    Each year, we look forward to bringing together investigators, executive leaders, associates, and collaborative partners from across our system to share the clinical research they are conducting. The Symposium features large-scale research abstract display of more than 300 peer-reviewed projects. We are pleased to welcome all residents and fellows to attend and present their research for the third year. This year we will increase our collaboration with Georgetown University Medical Center, our academic partners.

    The day will begin with professional development and advancement sessions, followed by resident oral presentations, abstract presentations and moderated poster sessions, and the keynote address.

    Details on abstract submission deadlines and registration coming soon. To learn more about the event, visit

    Thursday, May 30, 2019
    Bethesda North Marriott & Conference Center
    5701 Marinelli Rd.
    North Bethesda, MD 20852


    1:30 pm — Professional Development and Advancement Sessions
    3:00 pm — Resident Oral Presentations, Exhibit Hall, Scientific Poster Presentations and Keynote Presentation
    6:30 pm — Post-Symposium Receptions

    We hope that you will be able to attend this year’s event and thank you for supporting our mission to advance health through research, education, and innovation.

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Recent collaborative research sought to understand the contraceptive practices and fertility plans among transgender men. The study sought to address a gap in literature for family planning for individuals assigned female at birth and self-identified along the masculine spectrum.

    The research team from MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Health Research Institute, Children’s National Health System, and the Mazzoni Center found that transgender men experience unintended pregnancies, as well as future fertility desires, after transitioning and there is a lack of ongoing reproductive healthcare education for this unique population. “Family Planning and Contraception Use in Transgender Men” was published in Contraception. The research team was Alexis Light, MD, MPH; Lin-Fan Wang, MD; Veronica Gomez-Lobo, MD; and Alexander Zeymo.

    The goal of the research was to identify the current family planning practices and pregnancy desires within the transgender men population. The study utilized an anonymous online survey that was distributed at six LGBT health centers throughout the United States, 26 transgender healthcare providers, and 14 online listservs and Facebook groups for transgender men. The survey included questions regarding general health, fertility desires, use of testosterone, contraceptive use, and pregnancy history.

    Analysis from 197 respondents concluded that participants who had never taken hormones were nearly three times more likely to have been pregnant than those who have taken testosterone. A majority of the study participants had the desire to become parents, while a significant group of participants was afraid of not achieving the desired pregnancy. Surprisingly, for those that were not afraid of pregnancy, 51% reported that their healthcare providers had not asked about their fertility desires. The majority of men reported using, or had used, contraception options that included condoms, pills, and intrauterine devices.

    The study concluded that transgender men use contraception, experience pregnancy, and have abortions, even after transitioning. The results also display the need for counseling and ongoing care of healthcare providers to transgender men regarding reproductive health, including contraceptive and conception counseling. Further research is needed to assess fertility desires, contraceptive effectiveness, and unintended pregnancy to develop best practices for family planning and pregnancy desires in the transgender men community.

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) is now accepting applications for its KL2 Junior Faculty Scholars Program. Projects that are novel, inter- or multi-disciplinary and collaborative will be favored. The KL2 scholars will be awarded up to $90, 000 salary support and $40,000 project support per year (for up to two years).

    Who is eligible: Junior Faculty with a full-time or equivalent appointment at a GHUCCTS institution (Georgetown University, Howard University, or MedStar Health) at the time of award activation. Scholars must devote 75% effort to the program for three years; scholars must be US Citizens, Non-citizen Nationals, or Permanent Residents. Individuals who were, or currently are Principal Investigator of NIH R01, P01 or P50 subprojects, or individual K (e.g., K01, K08, K22, K23) grant ARE NOT eligible; current/former PIs of non-NIH peer reviewed research grants >$100k annual direct costs are ineligible.


    Pre-Applications are due NOVEMBER 29, 2018
    Final Applications  are due JANUARY 24, 2019

    Online Informational Sessions:
    November 6th - 12:00PM
    November 19th - 5:00PM

    To register for the sessions, e-mail GHUCCTS.EDUCATION@GEORGETOWN.EDU
    Learn more on the GHUCCTS website

    QUESTIONS? Contact the Executive Committee:
    Jason G. Umans, MD, PhD
    Dexter L. Lee, PhD
    Kathryn Sandberg, PhD

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) and the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) host Research Grand Rounds on the first Friday of each month, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., followed by lunch at 1:00pm. These interdisciplinary grand rounds are appropriate not only for principal investigators, but also for clinical and research trainees and for all members of the research team. They are intended to introduce projects, approaches, research methods, populations and resources which are of interest throughout all disciplines, and could lead to new collaborations and research opportunities.

    Epidemiology of Heart Failure: Cross Disciplinary Insights from Community-Based Cohort Studies

    Vasan Ramachandran, M.D., DM
    Professor and Chief Preventive Medicine and Epidemiologist Boston University
    Principal Investigator and Director, The Framingham Heart Study

    Friday, December 7, 2018
    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 6th Floor, CTEC Auditorium
    110 Irving Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 20010

    For those located at remote sites and unable to attend in-person, log on to on December 7, 2018, at 12:00 Noon to hear Dr. Ramachandran’s presentation.

    For more information, please contact or visit

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    At the recent MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) Fall Town Halls, associates gathered at three of our locations to be informed and engaged with what’s taking place across the MedStar Health System. Thank you to all the Research Institute associates that joined us at University Town Center, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, and MedStar Washington Hospital Center to connect with other associates and learn about the latest endeavors at the Research Institute.

    Thank you to Joan Bardsley, Karen Wade, and Lauren Moffat for sharing an impactful safety moment that focused on associate safety. The tools used to keep patients safe, including HRO principals, can be applied to associate situations as well. Four key points in associate safety are:

    1. Be mindful: Keep spaces neat and clean to avoid slips, trips, and falls.
    2. Be the voice: Report workplace violence. Workplace violence of any kind is not tolerated and is NOT part of the job.
    3. Be safe when handling patients: Always use safe patient handling equipment when transferring, lifting, or moving patients.
    4. Be smart with sharps: Prevent sharps injuries with preparation, and by activating the safety devices and disposing of sharps with care.

    The main portion of the town hall was dedicated to a deep dive into two sections of the FY 2019 operating plan. Each year, the Research Institute creates a Plan on a Page, based on the strategic goals for the year. The plan looks both outward and inward to develop goals for all of the Research Institute. All MHRI associates are provided the plan-on-a-page by their manager. If you did not receive a copy, you can download a digital version here.

    Building on work that was presented at a recent MHRI Board of Director’s Meeting, Dr. Weissman shared what the future of big data and artificial intelligence may look like for research at MHRI in the future. MHRI has great opportunity to be on the front line as the place to test these innovations in a real-world healthcare setting.

    Dr. Weissman shared an update on the Office of Research Integrity.  The department is in the process of rejuvenating their current processes, recruiting a new director, and working with Georgetown to implement a new eIRB system that will be going live this month. You can learn more about the new Georgetown-MedStar IRB System here.

    Thank you to all who made a contribution to The Power to Heal campaign.  These funds go towards the New Investigator Fund which supports scientific research by new MedStar Health investigators. If you haven't made a donation yet, there is still time. Donations are being accepted until the end of the year.

    Our HR Business Partner provided associates with information regarding professional development, educational assistance, annual open enrollment, flu shots, and the SiTEL mandatory trainings in an effort to keep associates up to date with matters that need attention. Explore all of your benefits and HR information in one place with myHR at For general HR inquiries and assistance, you may also contact the HR Solution Center at or 1-855-674-6947.

    You can download a PDF of all the slides from the town hall on StarPort here.

    Research would not be possible without our associates and without the patients who participate. Thank you for being a part of our vision to advance health through research.

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Annual Enrollment is underway and myHR is your one-stop for all of the information you need to choose the right benefits plan for 2019. Before enrolling, take time to visit myHR to compare plans and explore all of the options available to you. Take time to review your enrollment packet and determine the right options for you and your family.

    You must enroll online through myHR at by November 19 to change your benefits for 2019 and participate in Flexible Spending Accounts. If you wish to keep your current benefits coverage for 2019 (medical, dental, vision, life insurance, long-term disability additional coverage, legal resources, and voluntary benefits) for 2019, you do not need to enroll online. Your 2018 benefit elections and eligible enrolled dependents will roll over to 2019, except for Flexible Spending Account elections. You must enroll (or re-enroll) each year in a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and/or Dependent Care FSA, even if you opt to keep your current benefits.

    New for 2019

    • Higher copay for emergency care. The copay for emergency care is increasing from $125 to $250 for both the MedStar Select and CareFirst medical plans. Like health systems nationwide, MedStar is experiencing increased costs for its associate medical plans, including emergency care services. MedStar’s change aligns with several federal, state and private insurance plans that have increased emergency care visit copays to encourage choosing another option for non-emergent care. Across the U.S., there are 128 million Emergency Department (ED) visits each year, with 63 percent for non-life threatening emergencies.Emergency Departments should be used only for true medical emergencies; it can be the most expensive option if associates don’t have a true emergency. Before they receive care, associates should consider all of their options. MedStar Health Urgent Care provides non-emergent care while saving associates time and money. Additionally, MedStar eVisit is a convenient, less costly option for minor illnesses and injuries, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Emergency Departments should only be used for emergency care.
    • MedStar Now for primary and urgent care: MedStar Now is a convenient option for helping you determine the appropriate care if you experience an illness or injury, or need a vaccine, medical test or screening. The online tool——guides you to the right care based on your symptoms and MedStar services near you, including urgent care, primary care, Emergency Department, and MedStar eVisit. Based on responses from a brief questionnaire, MedStar Now directs you to the care you need, when and where you need it.

    Looking for more information about the total rewards package offered to you and your dependents? Take some time to attend a benefits fair and learn more. The full schedule of fairs is available here.

    Don’t miss your chance to save $360

    Complete the MyHealth Questionnaire during Annual Enrollment and save up to $30 a month on MedStar Select or CareFirst medical premiums.

    MyHealth Questionnaire: It’s All About You

    Wellness is a key component of a healthy lifestyle and MedStar Health is committed to helping you achieve your health and wellness goals. When you are in good health and feel well, you are more likely to be at your best at home and work.

    One way to get a snapshot of your overall health is by completing the annual MyHealth Questionnaire, which saves you approximately $360 a year on your MedStar Select or CareFirst medical premium. You must complete the questionnaire each year to receive the discount. The questionnaire assesses your numbers, such as blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol, as well as lifestyle habits, to determine your overall health status and lifestyle risks.

    Your personalized results help guide your health goals and you can take advantage of MedStar MyHealth programs to support your wellness, including:

    • Free one-on-one health coaching through Coach On Call program
    • Wellness activities at your work location
    • Programs that help you eat healthily or quit smoking

    No one from MedStar will see your personalized results and they do not affect your health coverage.

    Get started with your MyHealth Questionnaire at You have until Nov. 29 to complete the questionnaire and receive savings on your 2019 medical premium.