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  • January 14, 2022

    By Allison Larson, MD

    Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or spend the season curled up by the fireplace, the low humidity, bitter winds, and dry indoor heat that accompany cold weather can deplete your skin’s natural moisture. Dry skin is not only painful, uncomfortable, and irritating; it also can lead to skin conditions such as eczema, which results in itchy, red, bumpy skin patches. 

    Follow these six tips to prevent and treat skin damage caused by winter dryness.

    1. Do: Wear sunscreen all year long.

    UV rays can easily penetrate cloudy skies to dry out exposed skin. And when the sun is shining, snow and ice reflect its rays, increasing UV exposure. 

    Getting a sunburn can cause severe dryness, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancer. Snow or shine, apply sunscreen before participating in any outdoor activity during the winter—especially if you take a tropical vacation to escape the cold; your skin is less accustomed to sunlight and more likely to burn quickly.

    The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

    That being said, if you are considering laser skin treatments to reduce wrinkles, hair, blemishes, or acne scars, winter is a better time to receive these procedures. Sun exposure shortly after a treatment increases the risk of hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), and people are less likely to spend time outside during the winter.

    Related reading: 7 Simple Ways to Protect Your Skin in the Sun

    2. Do: Skip products with drying ingredients.

    Soaps or facial products you use in warm weather with no issues may irritate your skin during colder seasons. This is because they contain ingredients that can cause dryness, but the effects aren’t noticeable until they’re worsened by the dry winter climate.

    You may need to take a break from:

    • Anti-acne medications containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
    • Antibacterial and detergent-based soap
    • Anything containing fragrance, from soap to hand sanitizer

    Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, which contains a high level of skin-drying alcohol, cannot be avoided; we need to maintain good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs. If your job or lifestyle requires frequent hand washing or sanitizing, routinely apply hand cream throughout the day as well.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen a lot of people develop hand dermatitis—a condition with itchy, burning skin that can swell and blister—due to constant hand washing. Sometimes the fix is as simple as changing the soap they're using. Sensitive-skin soap is the best product for dry skin; it typically foams up less but still cleans the skin efficiently.

    3. Do: Pay closer attention to thick skin.

    Areas of thin skin, such as the face and backs of your hands, are usually exposed to the wind and sun the most. It’s easy to tell when they start drying out. But the thick skin on your palms and bottoms of your feet is also prone to dryness—and tends to receive less attention.

    When thick skin gets dry, fissures form. You’ll see the surface turn white and scaly; then deep, linear cracks will appear. It isn’t as pliable as thin skin. When you’re constantly on your feet or using your hands to work, cook, and everything in between, dry thick skin cracks instead of flexing with your movements. 

    To soften cracked skin, gently massage a heavy-duty moisturizer—such as Vaseline—into the affected area once or twice a day. You can also talk with your doctor about using a skin-safe adhesive to close the fissures and help them heal faster.

    Related reading:  Follow these 5 Tips for Healthy Skin

    4. Don’t believe the myth that drinking more water will fix dry skin.

    Contrary to popular belief, the amount of water or fluids you drink does not play a major role in skin hydration—unless you’re severely dehydrated. In the winter, especially, dry skin is caused by external elements; it should be treated from the outside as well. 

    The best way to keep skin hydrated and healthy is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment—not lotion—to damp skin after a shower or bath.
    Some people need additional moisturizers for their hands, legs, or other areas prone to dryness.

    While some lotions are made better than others, most are a combination of water and powder that evaporates quickly. Creams and ointments work better because they contain ingredients that can help rebuild your skin barrier. 

    Look for products with ceramide, a fatty acid that helps rebuild the fat and protein barrier that holds your skin cells together. The AAD also recommends moisturizing ingredients such as:

    • Dimethicone
    • Glycerin
    • Jojoba oil
    • Lanolin
    • Mineral oil
    • Petrolatum
    • Shea butter

    For severely dry skin, you can try a “wet wrap” technique:

    1. Rinse a pair of tight-fitting pajamas in warm water and wring them out so they’re damp, not wet.
    2. Apply cream or ointment to your skin.
    3. Put on the damp pajamas, followed by a pair of dry pajamas, and wear the ensemble for several hours.

    Dampness makes your skin more permeable and better able to absorb hydrating products. If the wet wrap or over-the-counter products aren’t working for you, talk with a dermatologist about prescription skin hydration options. 

    Drinking more water isn’t the answer to dry winter skin. The best solution is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment directly to damp skin. Get more cold weather #SkinCareTips from a dermatologist in this blog:
    Click to Tweet


    5. Don’t confuse skin conditions with dryness.

    Skin conditions are often mistaken for dry skin because peeling or flaking are common symptoms. Redness of the skin or itching in addition to dryness and flaking indicates a skin condition that may need more than an over-the-counter moisturizer.

    Skin cells are anchored together by a lipid and protein layer (like a brick and mortar wall). With very dry skin, the seal on this wall or barrier is not fully intact and water evaporates out of the skin’s surface. The skin will become itchy and red in addition to scaly or flaky. If you experience these symptoms, visit with a dermatologist.

    6. Don’t wait for symptoms to take care of dry skin.

    Be proactive—the best way to maintain moisture is to apply hydrating creams and ointments directly to your skin on a regular basis. Start by applying them as part of your morning routine. Once you get used to that, add a nighttime application. And carry a container of it when you’re on the go or keep it in an easily accessible location at work.


    You can’t avoid dry air, but you can take precautions to reduce its harsh effects on your skin. If over-the-counter products don’t seem to help, our dermatologists can provide an individualized treatment plan. Hydrated skin is healthy skin!

    Does your skin get drier as the air gets colder?

    Our dermatologists can help.

    Call 202-877-DOCS (3627) or Request an Appointment

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  • March 01, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    We are pleased to announce the 2020-2022 cohorts of the MedStar Health Research and Teaching Scholars!

    The MedStar Research Scholars program supports the development of MedStar clinicians who seek careers with a focus on clinical and translational research, in large part by addressing the need for research mentorship and critical feedback in project design, analysis, and presentation. MedStar Health Research Institute, MedStar Health Academic Affairs, and the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science offer this research career development program to clinical and junior research colleagues.

    New Research Scholars
    Victoria Lai, MD, MS (Surgery), MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    Leila Shobab, MD (Endocrinology), MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    Alexis Dieter, MD (Urogynecology), MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    Blair (Amanda) Spence, MD (Medicine, Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine), MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

    The MedStar Teaching Scholars program is a two-year longitudinal program leading to Medical Education Research Certification (MERC) and Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) certification. The program is led by MedStar Health Academic Affairs and MedStar Health Research Institute, in conjunction with the Association of American Medical Colleges, and has been in place since 2009.

    The heart of the program is teaching clinician educators from across MedStar Health how to apply research principles to medical education; become informed consumers of the medical education research literature; to be effective collaborators in medical education research; and to develop as a leader in academic medicine. GME program directors, core clinical teaching faculty, clerkship directors and other clinician educators (with limited research training or experience) in all specialties and professions are encouraged to apply.

    New Teaching Scholars
    Elizabeth Clienti, MD, MPH 
    (Internal Medicine), MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
    Kathryn Hart, MD, FAAFP (Family Medicine), Georgetown University
    Nicholas Hazen, MD (OBGYN), MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    Laura Johnson, MD, FACS, FCCP (Burn/Surgery), MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    Mark Mattar, MD (Medicine-Gastroenterology), MedStar Georgetown
    Gregory Nizialek, MD (Internal Medicine), MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
    Anita Tammara, MD, MBA, MPH (Medicine), MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
    Rachelle Toman, MD, PhD (Family Medicine), MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Georgetown University

    Congratulations to the new scholars for 2020-2022!

  • March 01, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Registration is open for the 2020 MedStar Health-Georgetown University Research Symposium on Monday, April 6, 2020 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

    The MedStar Health - Georgetown University Research Symposium and Colloquium for Educators in the Health Professions are open to all members of the research and education community interested in learning more about scholarship at MedStar and Georgetown.

    Beginning in 2019, the Research Symposium partners with the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education (CENTILE) at the Georgetown University Medical Center to host the Colloquium for Educators in the Health Professions as part of the event. The Colloquium is an opportunity for those across the system focused on education to gather, share ideas and learn together.

    This full day event brings together the MedStar Health and Georgetown University communities to celebrate the great work of our colleagues. It offers the unique opportunity to connect with researchers, educators, residents, executive leaders, and collaborative partners from across the region and our system to build meaningful relationships to further advance the health of our community.

    The Research Symposium features scientific poster presentations from investigators across the system and the spectrum of care, information on research support services offered by MedStar Health Research Institute and the opportunity to connect with residents and researchers dedicated to advancing health. 

    Learn more and register at


    8:30 am – noon

    Seventh Annual Colloquium for Educators in the Health Professions

    Hosted by GUMC’s Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education (CENTILE), the Seventh Annual Colloquium for Educators in the Health Professions Colloquium is an opportunity for those across the system focused on education to gather, share ideas, and learn together.

    8:45 am: Opening Remarks

    9 am: Oral Session 1

    9:50 - 10 am: Break

    10 - 10:50 am: Concurrent Symposia

    • - Leadership and Management Curriculum in Graduate Medical Education: Resident Initiatives and Program Director Intuitions
    • - Medical-legal partnership as a boundary spanning educational model for health professionals

    10:50 - 11 am: Break

    11:10 am: Oral Session 2 - Curriculum Innovations

    Noon – 1:15 pm

    Plenary Speaker and Lunch

    David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC President & Chief Executive Officer

    1:30 pm2:15 pm

    2:30 pm – 3:15 pm

    Pre-Symposium Professional Development and Advancement Sessions 
    These 45-minute optional workshops are offered before the Symposium and are intended to provide small group educational sessions hosted by experts from the MedStar Health & Georgetown University community. Each session focuses on a specific academic topic and is open to all Symposium attendees. Seats will be reserved for those who pre-register for the event. Attendees who do not pre-register for a session or who register on-site may attend these sessions on a first-come, first-seated basis.

    • Abstracts, Manuscripts, Journals - Oh my!
      Kristen Miller, DrPH, CPPS
    • Demystifying the IRB
      Jim Boscoe; Kristen Katopol, MS, CIM
    • GUMC Academic Appointments & Promotions Updates
      Elliott Crooke, PhD
    • How to “Thrive” in Wellbeing Research
      Mihriye Mete, PhD; Daniel Marchalik, MD, MA
    • Stats Fundamentals
      Stephen Fernandez, MS
    • Tips for Funding Success
      Angela Thomas, DrPh; Federico Asch, MD
    • Can You Entrust Your Student/Resident/Fellow With This Patient Care Activity? Using Entrustment-based Discussions to Support Your Decision (90-min session)
      H. Carrie Chen, MD, PhD
    • Giving Feedback in Clinical Learning Environments (90-min session)
      Robin Gross, MD, FCCP
    • Principles of Design Thinking (90-min session)
      Brian Boston, MA; Mindy McWilliams, MA

    2:30 pm – 3:15 pm

    GME Town Hall
    Residents, fellows, and faculty members from clinical sites throughout the MedStar Health GME consortium are invited to join for an interactive, system-wide town hall session.  Executive and administrative leaders representing MedStar Health corporate, hospitals, system GME, and local/institutional GME will present pertinent updates regarding our clinical learning and working environments, and be available to answer any questions that you may have.

    3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

    Resident & Fellow Oral Presentations
    As part of the MedStar Health system-wide resident research day, residents and fellows with the top scoring abstracts are invited to give a short oral presentation on their research to attendees. These presentations allow residents and fellows to gain the experience of presenting their research and allow them to share their work with the larger MedStar Health & Georgetown University communities.

    4:30 pm

    Abstract Presentations & Moderated Poster Sessions
    The main feature of the Research Symposium, the Grand Ballroom opens to showcase the peer-reviewed abstract presentations from across MedStar Health & Georgetown University. Ranging from health services research to critical care to orthopedics, all departments and entities are represented by established investigators, residents, and fellows. Also featured during this time is a moderated poster session for resident and fellow submissions.

    5:45 pm

    Main Stage Presentations & Keynote Address
    Join leadership from MedStar Health and Georgetown University in the main ballroom to recognize the importance of research and collaboration in our community and present awards to investigators with top scoring poster submissions. The keynote speaker for this year is David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC President & Chief Executive Officer.

    6:30 pm

    Post-Symposium Gratitude Reception 
    Hosted by MedStar Philanthropy, all are invited to attend an on-site reception directly following the Moderated Poster Presentations & Awards in the main ballroom. This will provide further networking with MedStar leaders, researchers, associates, grateful patients and donors to research.


  • March 01, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    MedStar Health Research Scholar Alexander Kim, MD recently presented his preliminary work on improving patient outcomes after liver directed therapies at the Research Scholars Capstone event. His two research studies were focused on the use of radioembolization and patient outcomes. Radioembolization is a type of intra-arterial therapy wherein radiation particles are infused from the hepatic artery to treat liver cancers.  Previous research has demonstrated that radioembolization leads to high rates of local tumor response rates. However, randomized trials of radioembolization in various tumor types have not led to improve patient overall survival.

    The objective for the first study was to identify a liver function test which could improve both patient selection criteria and define liver toxicity better than the current standard. A secondary goal was to identify methods to improve particle delivery to tumor and reduce particle delivery to normal liver which would improve disease response and reduce liver toxicity. The most commonly used parameter when assessing patients for radioembolization in clinical practice is the total bilirubin level. It is common for radiologists to use a total bilirubin level of 2 as the cutoff to determine treatment eligibility.

     The study recruited 15 patients who were being considered for radioembolization. The patients underwent Quantitative Liver Spleen Scan (QLSS) and Perfused Hepatic Mass (PHM) values were correlated with the total bilirubin level and other indicators of liver function used in various clinical situations including Albumin, MELD, the ALBI score/grade, and Child Pugh Score (CPS). The study results found there was a poor correlation between PHM and all parameters except for the ALBI score, which was a moderate correlation. To conclude, even though total bilirubin level is often used to determine patient eligibility for radioembolization, it appears to be a poor measure of liver function in patients being considered for liver-directed therapy.

    The objective of the second study was to identify a method which would allow for improved radiation targeting to tumor and sparing of the background liver. The goal was to improve treatment response rates but also reduce liver functional impairment.

    The rationale for radioembolization and other intra-arterial therapies is dependent on the unique blood flow of the liver. However, for patient who develop liver cancers, studies have shown that over 90% of the tumor blood flow is arterial in origin. The standard method of performing radioembolization is to deliver radiation particles through a standard microcatheter. However, a newer type of catheter has recently been introduced in the market. These catheters have been demonstrated to alter the blood pressure in the hepatic artery.

    To test Dr. Kim’s hypothesis, the research team used an animal model (woodchuck HCC) to perform a pathologic assessment of particle distribution. The woodchuck is large enough to allow for the performance of arterial catheterization. For this study, three woodchucks underwent embolization (two using the pressure altering catheter (PAC) and one with a standard microcatheter). After embolization, the woodchucks were sacrificed and pathologic assessment of the liver was performed where particles in tumor and background liver were manually counted.

    The study results found that more particles appear to be delivered with the use of the pressure altering catheter compared to the standard catheters. The tumor to normal particle distribution ratio appears to overlap between the two catheter types. However, there appears to be a much greater particle density in tumors in the animals embolized with the pressure altering catheters. To conclude, when comparing particle distribution in the central half to the peripheral half of the tumor, there is a much greater ratio of particle deposition in the central half of the tumor, suggesting that the pressure altering catheter allows for deeper penetration of the infused particles.

    For future research, the research team has a prospective study designed with partial funding secured in hopes to follow liver function prospectively, before and after treatment with radioembolization. The long-term goal is to identify a better measure of liver function and improved tumor delivery to perform a clinical study to test their overarching hypothesis.

    This research was presented as part of the MedStar Health Teaching and Research Scholars Capstone event, which culminates both the two-year programs.

  • March 01, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by MedStar Health Research Institute 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.

    On behalf of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and MedStar Health Research Institute, you are invited to Clinical and Translational Research Grand Rounds on Friday, March 13, 2020 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. The speaker this month will be R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD. The Talk is titled, “Alzheimer’s Disease Spectrum Trials: Where Are We Now?

    Dr. Turner is a Professor of Neurology and Director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University. His clinical and translational research focuses on prediction, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, including imaging and biomarker studies, mechanistic studies, and clinical trials. He will present recent research findings - including results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-site Phase 2a trial of nilotinib for Alzheimer's disease (submitted for publication).

    Alzheimer’s Disease Spectrum Trials: Where Are We Now?
    R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD. 
    Professor of Neurology and Director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University

    March 13, 2020

    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation

    Please note that this month’s talk will be streamed online, and we will not meet in person.
    Live Stream Link:

    If you have any questions regarding the Research Grand Rounds program, please contact or visit

  • March 01, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Research undertaken by a MedStar Health Teaching Scholar sought to increase resident engagement with lectures on anesthesiology through understanding educational needs for a diverse group of learners. Anesthesiology residency programs have implemented uniform lecture series for all trainees. All residents, regardless of level or rotation, attend the same early morning lecture.  Given this structure, it is likely that the topic of the lecture will not apply to the learning rotation or focus of the attendees. The goal of this intervention was to use technology to target learners in a more personalized way, based on the patients they are seeing that day.

    “Enabling “Push Notifications” in Anesthesiology Training”, led by Sumeet Gopwani, MD sought to use a targeting approach with technology to increase resident reading and create a facilitative teaching tool. In order to encourage learning, it was important to understand residents to be adult learners and the importance of teaching that would be relevant to their experiences. For this group of learners, Just In Time methodologies such as personalized web-based resources were ideal. Residents read 4 hours/week on average and are most motivated to read for their clinical cases.

    The study included 10 residents that were randomized to be enrolled in a directed reading intervention for 2 months. The resident reading time was compared from their baseline when they were enrolled in the program and how the residents’ reading changed during the study period.  The effect on teaching evaluations was also measured. Baseline resident reading levels were 6.5 hours/week. During the first phase of the study, residents in the directed reading group increased their reading by 2 hours/week, while the control group decreased reading by 0.5 hours/week.

    Direct reading articles were sent to faculty to use a facilitative teaching tool but the analysis concluded that only 15% of the time did faculty discuss the articles with the residents. During the second phase of the study, residents in the control group had essentially stopped reading altogether. However, residents in the directed reading program continued to read at their baseline levels. The research showed that technological feasibility for personalized, automated, case-based, directed reading can be established.  Also, using the adult learning theory and an understanding of residents’ motivation for reading, the direct reading program showed significant increase in resident reading. While faculty did not regularly use the program as a facilitative teaching tool, the results show a large effect on teaching evaluations. 

    The research team believes next steps will be to evaluate why the directed reading program did not fully succeed as a facilitative teaching tool. They would like to consider the faculty user experience and layering their teaching preferences into the targeting. Also, there is a plan to expand the project to additional anesthesiology programs.

    This research was presented as part of the MedStar Health Teaching and Research Scholars Capstone event, which culminates both the two-year programs.

  • March 01, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Every February at MHRI, we celebrate “Heart Healthy” and take the time to “Go Red!” for heart health. Associates were invited to wear red in support of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) fight against heart disease in February. Throughout the month, associates gathered together to show their commitment to heart health.

    Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At MedStar Health Research Institute, many of our research efforts are designed to improve quality of life for heart patients. Chances are we all know someone affected by heart disease and stroke because about 2200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. That’s an average of one death every forty seconds.

    As we have for the last eight years, we accepted submissions for a photo challenge! Associates showed off in their red outfits and team spirit. View all the photo submissions from MHRI teams below. Thank you to all who took the time to participate. Winners will be announced in an upcoming edition of Important Things to Know for all MHRI associates.

    Thank you to all who showed their support for this important cause!

    Take the time to take care of your heart. You can learn more about taking care of your heart health from the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute: