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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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  • April 06, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Physical activity is vital for overall health, including for a healthy spine. Most people can avoid chronic back or neck pain by maintaining an active lifestyle and making a few simple posture changes.  

    But what if you’re already experiencing neck or back pain? Is it too late to make a change?

    For most people, it’s never too late to improve spine health. via @MedStarWHC

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    I often see patients who come in with sudden, severe neck and back pain. It often flares up unexpectedly, such as when performing household chores. These patients often worry that they’ve damaged their spines. But in the vast majority of cases, physical therapy and sometimes non-narcotic medication will provide neck and back pain relief.

    Need a spine health check up? Schedule an visit with an orthopaedic specialist today!

    Request an Appointment

    Let’s take a look at how a healthy spine works and why physical therapy is so effective to help you recuperate from and prevent future back pain.

    Supporting your spine

    Maintaining a healthy spine depends upon strengthening the muscles that bear its weight. The muscles around your back (often called “core” muscles) take some of the load off the spine’s lumbar vertebrae. These five large bones provide a supporting frame for the spine, but they aren’t made to hold its weight.

    People experience back pain when their core muscles are too weak to support the lumbar vertebrae. If these vertebrae and the joints surrounding them bear too much weight over time, it can accelerate arthritis of the lower back, resulting in the sudden, intense pain I described earlier.    

    It’s important to exercise the core muscles around your abdomen and lower back to stay strong. Many back problems are caused by inactivity and smoking.  

    Inactivity and spine health

    Americans spend an average of nearly eight hours per day sitting. Given that most adults have desk jobs, that number isn’t too surprising. But prolonged periods of sedentary behavior can have surprisingly severe effects on your health, so much so that this group of conditions has been given a name: “sitting disease.” Sitting disease increases your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, cancer and more. And it also affects your spine.  

    Did you know… “Americans spend an average of nearly eight hours per day sitting.” via @MedStarWHC

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    When you’re sitting, your core muscles aren’t being worked. They sit dormant, becoming weaker the less they’re used. Making this problem worse is the fact that many people have poor sitting posture. Slouching can make it more difficult for the core muscles to bear weight and causes issues with spinal problems over time.  

    Sedentary lifestyles are a common theme among my neck and back pain patients. When you’re younger, you can live an inactive life for years without back pain. But those years are silently taking a toll on your spine.  

    If you must sit for most of the day, you can take proactive steps to guard against future back troubles. And if you already have back pain, these techniques are especially important to prevent it from getting worse.  

    Developing healthy spine habits  

    You can keep your spine healthy and avoid serious back pain by making a habit of exercising and stretching. I tell my patients they need to make core muscle exercises a part of their daily routine, just like brushing your teeth. Strengthening the core muscles helps keep your spine healthy. It’s that simple. Some exercises that I recommend include modified planks, the “superman” stretch or yoga. You may need to exercise a specific subset of core muscles depending on your condition, so ask your physical therapist or doctor which exercises you can perform to improve your spine health.  

    If you sit at work, consider getting a standing desk. My patients rave about how much better their backs feel after they start using one. According to a growing body of research, reducing your sedentary time with a standing desk can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, help you focus and avoid feeling tired while improving your mood at work.  

    When you do sit, make sure to use proper posture. Keep your back straight and shoulders back. This posture helps maintain the natural curvature of the spine. You also should change your sitting position regularly, and get up to move around at least once per hour.    

    sitting posture correction
    A healthy sitting posture. Your head to kneecaps should make less of a letter C and more of a letter L.

    You should be on your way to a healthier spine if you stick to these habits. But if you’re still experiencing pain, or your pain begins to radiate into your arms or legs, you could have a back condition that requires more intensive treatment.  

    If you have back pain, or sit for long periods of time, don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Be proactive about your spine health – you’ll feel the benefits of being flexible and active, and enjoy years free of back pain.  

    Request an appointment to discuss physical therapy options or call 240-788-2660 to learn more.

    Request an Appointment

  • April 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Washington, D.C., is a city full of runners. You can see it in the number of 5Ks, half marathons and other running events that the area plays host to every year. And you can see it in the number of people out jogging on the streets and in the parks every day.  

    Many runners stick to treadmills during the winter months, myself included. But when the slush begins to disappear and the sidewalks become less slippery, many of us will begin making the seasonal transition back outdoors.  

    Running on a treadmill is quite different from outdoor running. I like to use the term “treadmill hopping” to describe the body’s motion: instead of propelling yourself forward, you move up and down as the tread cycles underneath you. Your muscles get used to this activity after a while, and adjusting to the different set of movements used in outdoor running can take some time.  

    Unfortunately, many runners don’t properly adapt to the rigors of outdoor running, resulting in a lot of easily-preventable injuries. Estimates vary, but evidence suggests about half of U.S. runners will be injured at least once a year.   

    “About half of U.S. runners will be injured at least once a year” via @MedStarWHC

    Click to Tweet

    With that in mind, here are four things you can do to minimize your risk of injury while running outdoors.


    1. Be aware of your surroundings

    The most common injuries I see among runners are ankle sprains. They’re usually caused by road hazards, such as stepping in potholes or on or off curbs. Watch where you step.  

    But that’s not all you need to watch for. Being aware of your surroundings also means being proactive about your own safety, especially if you use headphones or earbuds. You can’t assume other people can see you. Distracted drivers may not notice someone running in front of them, and people chatting on sidewalks are often blissfully unaware of oncoming runners.  

    Ideally, you should have full sensory awareness as you’re running. That means keeping your eyes and ears open.  But I know many people find it hard to run without music, so if you do have earbuds in, use your eyes and pay extra attention to the world around you.  

    2. Stretch your muscles before and after running  

    It’s important to keep your muscles flexible to allow them to reach their full range of motion and prevent soreness and injury. Stretch before and after a run. In particular, I recommend stretching your calves. These muscles are constantly under strain when you’re running. Weak calves can cause a range of common running injuries, including shin splints and Achilles tendonitis.  

    Try this calf stretch:

    • Stand two to three feet from a wall.
    • Place your left foot behind your right foot. Both feet should be pointing forward, with a comfortable distance between them.
    • Bend your right leg forward while pressing the wall with your arms. Keep your left leg straight and your left foot firmly planted.  
    • Keep your back straight, and hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.  
    • Repeat these steps with your right foot behind your left.  

    3. Keep your bones strong with a nutrition-filled diet

    In addition to your muscles, you also want to keep your bones in mind. Conditions such as osteomalacia – which causes bones to soften – can make you more prone to running injuries, and often occurs as a result of a vitamin D or calcium deficiency. Keep your bones strong and ready to run with a nutrient-filled diet of foods such as:

    • Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yogurt are great sources of calcium. 
    • Beans: Soybeans and white beans are good calcium options for people who are lactose-intolerant.  
    • Fish: Many types of fish provide calcium or vitamin D. Some, like salmon, contain both.      

    4. Give your legs time to rest

    Running five miles on a treadmill is not the same as running five miles outdoors. You have to account for changes in elevation and terrain. And as I mentioned earlier, you’re also using your muscles differently.  Giving your body time to rest after a long run is vital to prevent injury. Most running injuries happen because of overuse – performing the same repetitive motions without enough resting time. Luckily, these injuries can almost always be treated without surgery. But they can affect your ability to perform everyday activities and keep you from exercising. 

    “Most running injuries are caused by overuse: running without resting” via @MedStarWHC

    Click to Tweet

    You can prevent overuse injuries by listening to what your body is telling you. If your muscles are sore, it’s probably best to avoid extended running until they feel better. This advice might run contrary to what you’d usually hear from an athletics coach, but don’t push yourself. At least not too much.  

    Treadmill season is over. Spring is here. And if you follow these tips, you’ll reduce your risk of injury and be ready to hit the ground running.    

    Did you like these tips? Sign up to get health and wellness tips and information sent directly to your inbox.   You can prevent overuse injuries by listening to what your body is telling you. If your muscles are sore, it’s probably best to avoid extended running until they feel better. This advice might run contrary to what you’d usually hear from an athletics coach, but don’t push yourself. At least not too much.  

    Treadmill season is over. Spring is here. And if you follow these tips, you’ll reduce your risk of injury and be ready to hit the ground running.    

    Did you like these tips? Sign up to get health and wellness tips and information sent directly to your inbox.   


  • March 31, 2017

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Register today for the 10x10 with Oregon Health & Science University: Introduction to Biomedical and Health Informatics. Learn more about this course on the website.

    The 10x10 course gets its name from its original goal when launched in 2005 of educating 10,000 healthcare and related professionals in biomedical and health informatics by 2010, as suggested by former American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) President Dr. Charles Safran. The goal of 10x10 was operationalized by Dr. William Hersh of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

    The goal of the AMIA-OHSU 10x10 program is to provide a detailed overview of biomedical and health informatics to those who will work at the interface of healthcare and information technology (IT). The course also aims to provide an entry point for those wishing further study (and/or career development) in the field. It provides a broad understanding of the field from the vantage point of those who implement, lead, and develop IT solutions for improving health, healthcare, public health, and biomedical research. It provides up-to-date details on current events in the field, including the "meaningful use" of electronic health records specified by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

    This survey course provides a broad overview of the field, highlighting the key issues and challenges for the field. The course is taught in a completely asynchronous manner (i.e., there are no "scheduled" classes). However, students must keep up with the course materials so they can benefit from the interactive discussion with faculty and other students.

    The registration deadline for the course is July 19, 2017. Learn more and register today.

  • March 31, 2017

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by MHRI and Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and bring together the MedStar Health community for a learning experience focusing on a different topic each month.

    Research Grand Rounds are open to all members of the research team, from principal investigators to clinical and research coordinators and trainees. Topics covered in the Research Grand Rounds range from community-focused research to best practices, and are intended to increase collaboration within the research community in and outside of MedStar Health.

    Creation of the Specialty Practice of Clinical Research Nursing in Clinical and Translational Science
    Presented by Shaunagh Browning, RN, FNP-BC, GHUCCTS and International Association of Clinical Research Nurses

    May 5, 2017
    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 6th Floor, CTEC Theater
    110 Irving Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 20010

    View the listing of the FY17 Grand Rounds.

  • March 31, 2017

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the sixth annual MedStar Health Research Symposium on Monday, May 1, 2017, from 1 to 7 pm at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. Everyone in the MedStar community who wishes to learn more about the exciting research taking place across our system is invited to attend.

    The Symposium brings together investigators, residents, executive leaders, associates and collaborative partners from across our system to share the clinical research being conducted. The Symposium will feature a keynote speaker and a large-scale abstract display from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, including more than 300 peer-reviewed projects from faculty, residents and fellows.

    New this year, educational sessions will be offered at 1 pm, followed by oral presentations from the residents and fellows who received top scores on their abstract submissions. Educational sessions are being led by experts from the MedStar Health community and are open to all attendees. Space is limited for the educational sessions. Register today to reserve your seat.

    Our keynote address will be delivered by Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges. A distinguished physician, educator, and medical scientist, Dr. Kirch speaks and publishes widely on the need for transformation in the nation’s health care system and how academic medicine can lead change across medical education, biomedical research, and patient care. His career spans all aspects of academic medicine and includes leadership positions at two medical schools and academic health systems, as well as at the National Institutes of Health. 

    Register Today!



     1:00-2:30 pm

    Educational Sessions

    • GUMC Academic Appointments, Promotions & Mentoring
      Presenters will discuss criteria for appointment and promotion on the Clinician, Clinician Educator and Clinician Scholar, Biomedical Educator, and Biomedical Scholar tracks and steps to apply and will review the faculty mentoring and career development resources available. 
    • Which Test Should I Run? A Review of Commonly Utilized Statistical Tests
      Led by biostatisticians from MHRI, this session will provide an overview of statistical approaches used most commonly in clinical research. The session serves as an introduction to the topic of biostatistics and resources at MedStar.
    • Research 101: How to Start Your Research Career at MedStar Health
      We understand that it can be difficult to start a research career at a large healthcare system. This session will review resources available to new investigators, such as help submitting a grant, identifying funding sources, and preparing an IRB application.
    • Applying to the GUMC Teaching Academy & Developing an Educators CV and Portfolio
      The GUMC Teaching Academy for the Health Sciences was established in 2015 to cultivate a community of faculty and educators. Membership is open to both Georgetown and MedStar Health faculty/educators. This workshop provides an overview of the Teaching Academy and guidance on the application process, including how to develop an Educator’s Portfolio and  CV. At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will have a detailed working plan for applying to the Teaching Academy. This workshop, and membership to the Teaching Academy, is open to both faculty and residents/fellows. 
    • A Primer on How to Conduct Systematic Reviews in Health Sciences
      Often used as a starting point for developing clinical practice guidelines, systematic reviews in health sciences education seek to answer what is known on a specific topic. This workshop provides an overview of systematic, scoping, and other types of comprehensive literature searches. Participants will learn the essential components and criteria of a rigorous systematic review, how to assemble and form a review team, and how to critique a systematic review in the social sciences.
    • Bringing Research to Life
      Learn how to transform the way we describe our work by crafting a compelling story that captures the attention of donors and other financial investors. This session will help you unlock the quarantined energy and emotion of your work by utilizing a narrative framework that has proven successful in raising funds for research of all types.

     3:00-4:00 pm

     Resident & Fellow Oral Presentations

     4:00-7:00 pm

     Poster Presentations & Keynote Address

    Register Today!


  • March 31, 2017

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    On Wednesday, April 12, the William B. Glew, MD, Health Sciences Library is celebrating MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, and other MedStar associates who have published or presented research in the past year with our eighth annual Authors’ Day.

    We will have a small reception at 12:00 pm (noon) to celebrate associates who published or presented in 2016; all are welcome.

    Come to the library (Room 2A-43, next to the A elevators, at MedStar Washington Hosptial Center) during the day to peruse works written by our colleagues,  and scan the complete bibliography listing works published by associates in 2016.  We will also be having demos of library resources throughout the day.

    All associates who published an article in 2016 are invited to come to the library any time the first or second week of April and autograph a printed copy of their article(s) for presentation to Mr. Sullivan.