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  • Lucy De La Cruz
    January 20, 2022

    The renowned 39-year-old breast surgeon becomes youngest Latina woman to lead breast surgery program in U.S. at major academic medical center

    WASHINGTONLucy Maria De La Cruz, MD, has joined MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as chief of its Breast Surgery Program and director of the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center. Dr. De La Cruz is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon who specializes in advanced breast surgery procedures, including wireless lumpectomies, hidden scar technique, oncoplastic breast conservation, and nipple-sparing mastectomy. She has been published in more than two dozen peer-reviewed scientific journals, and her pivotal papers on nipple-sparing mastectomy and oncologic outcomes have been cited worldwide. She will also direct the hospital’s breast surgery fellowship program.

    Lucy De La Cruz

    “I am honored and excited to lead the breast surgery program and the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” said De La Cruz. “It has been my life-long dream to bring my passion for medicine, helping others and building a state-of-the-art breast surgery program to advance breast health. I look forward to working with our multidisciplinary team of breast health experts to compassionately care for, educate and empower my patients in their health journey.”

    Dr. De La Cruz is an academic breast surgeon who conducts outcomes-focused research, and among her special interests are the impact of genomic mapping to guide breast cancer treatment and male breast cancer treatment. Her work is guided by a long-standing commitment to promoting equity and efficacy in breast cancer care delivery, using the principles of value-based health care.
    “The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital are thrilled to have Dr. De La Cruz lead the breast surgery program. Her commitment to patients, their journey, and their outcomes are unmatched; and her expertise in novel surgical techniques brings new and beneficial options to patients,” said David H. Song, MD, MBA, FACS, Physician Executive Director, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Professor and Chair Department of Plastic Surgery, and Interim Chair, Department of Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine.
    Dr. De La Cruz’s story

    Dr. De La Cruz, 39, started her journey towards becoming the youngest Latina woman to lead a breast cancer surgery program at a major academic medical center at young age. As the daughter of international physician researchers, she spent a lot of time in labs where her parents worked, sparking her passion for medicine and “making a difference in people’s lives.” She grew up in Cuba, Mozambique, Spain, and Miami.
    In college, she studied abroad in the Dominican Republic at the Universidad Central Del Este School of Medicine, where students were involved in patient care very early in their education and training. There, she completed her medical degree, founded an American Medical Student Association chapter and raised scholarship funds to help those who couldn’t afford tuition.

    After graduation, she was told becoming a surgeon would be nearly impossible as a foreign medical graduate and a female. Despite this, De La Cruz obtained research fellowships from the University of Miami and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She continued her journey by obtaining a one-year residency internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she earned the Intern of the Year award and an AOA medical honor society membership for her dedication to medical student teaching. During her residency, she worked on an award-winning oncologic outcomes research project for nipple-sparing mastectomy that continues to be cited worldwide.
    That same year, Dr. De La Cruz started her breast surgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, she worked in private practice for a year before returning to the University of Pennsylvania as a faculty member in the associate program director of the breast cancer surgery fellowship program.
    After relocating to Washington, D.C., to be close to her family, she founded the breast cancer fellowship program curriculum at the Inova Health System. Now at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center, she continues to teach residents and fellows, pursue research, and care for patients – the fulfillment of her lifelong dream. 

    About MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

    About the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center

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  • January 04, 2019

    Zijun Zhang, MD, PhD and collaborators from the Orthobiologic Laboratory at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital evaluate multipotent stormal cells of persons with diabetes and the weakened ability to fight off bacterial infection.The research was recently published in Stem Cells and Development. Learn More

  • January 04, 2019


    Personal AI of nurse to aid in at-home monitoring of patients suffering from heart failure

    Pasadena, CA/Hyattsville, MD (March 4, 2019) — ObEN Inc., the artificial intelligence (AI) company creating Personal AI (PAI) technology to revolutionize digital interactions, is pleased to announce it is working with MedStar Health Research Institute for a study on the use of Personal AI (PAI) healthcare assistants for patients suffering from heart failure. For the study, ObEN has created a medical health assistant app, called PAI Care, to help monitor patients of heart failure.

    Under the direction of the principal investigator Nawar Shara, PhD, Director of the Department of Biostatistics and Biomedical Informatics at MedStar Health Research Institute and Associate Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University, the study will investigate the use of voice-activated and avatar-enabled technologies for monitoring heart failure patients at home and whether this monitoring improves health and recovery outcomes. The study will include patients interacting with Tara, an intelligent 3D Healthcare Assistant Avatar created using ObEN’s PAI technology, via an app on a tablet.

    “Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition that impacts millions of people worldwide and is increasing in incidence,”said Dr. Shara. “Hospitalization is a major driver of treatment costs and adversely affects the quality of life and outcomes for heart failure patients. Prevention of heart failure hospital readmission is an area of unmet need. This study leverages voice and avatar-enabled artificial intelligence technologies to empower patients to better manage their condition.”

    For this four-month study, ObEN’s technology will fuel the voice, appearance, and animation of the healthcare assistant avatar in PAI Care as well as the chatbot feature through which the patients can interact with the PAI. Under a daily schedule, participants in the study will answer a series of health and wellness questions that will help the study collect data and also monitor the health of the patients.

    ObEN is also providing additional technology for a related-study by MedStar Health Research Institute, using voice-enabled healthcare support. This study is made possible with grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) through the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS).

    “ObEN’s technology can potentially create a way to provide triage, management, and routine health reminders while alleviating pain points within the healthcare industry including patient monitoring, EHS systems management, and geriatric care and companionship,” said Nikhil Jain, CEO of ObEN. “With the healthcare industry facing rising costs, insufficient resources and a lack of manpower around the world, we believe PAI can serve as the basis for solutions to the most pressing issues in healthcare and provide better access to service for all people.”

    Using ObEN’s proprietary full-stack AI technology, ObEN can create personalized, intelligent 3D avatars that look and sound like the user, can learn to behave like the user, and even learn skills the user does not possess, like speaking in multiple languages. ObEN has also adopted the Project PAI blockchain protocol, an open source decentralized public utility blockchain, to secure and authenticate the PAIs and the associated user data, allowing people to gain more ownership of their own digital identity. For healthcare applications, ObEN enables the creation of Nurse and Doctor PAIs that can be individualized to the real professionals providing care to their patients.

    To learn more about Personal AI technology visit

    About ObEN
    ObEN is an artificial intelligence (AI) company developing Personal AI technology that revolutionizes personal digital interaction, enabling never before possible social and virtual interactions. The company’s technology allows users to create intelligent 3D avatars that look, sound, and behave like them. Deployed on the Project PAI blockchain, ObEN’s Personal AI (PAI) technology enables users to create, use, and manage their own PAI on a secure, decentralized platform. Founded in 2014, ObEN is a K11, Tencent, Softbank Ventures Korea and HTC Vive X portfolio company and is located at Idealab in Pasadena, California. To learn more about ObEN, please visit

    About MedStar Health Research Institute
    MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative, and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. For more information, visit

    About MedStar Health
    MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation, and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion, and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit

  • January 04, 2019

    In a joint effort, experts from MedStar Health and the American Medical Association (AMA) have launched, highlighting patient safety and health information technology concerns with electronic health records (EHRs). 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of the federal act which encouraged the adoption of EHRs. This collaboration builds on prior MedStar Health research that identified concerns with EHRs usability and errors. Read more.

  • January 04, 2019

    MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare Logo

    Washington, D.C., — Marking the 10th anniversary of the landmark federal act that encouraged hospitals, clinics, and physician offices to adopt electronic health record systems (EHRs), MedStar Health experts in patient safety and health information technology are collaborating with the American Medical Association (AMA) to push for changes to address the known risks to patient safety and clinician burnout that stem from poor EHR usability.

    In their latest joint effort, MedStar and the AMA are making available for the first time videos from the clinician’s point of view that demonstrate the risks and challenges caused by poor EHR usability, which is the extent to which the technology can be used efficiently, effectively, and satisfactorily. The videos have just been made available on a new website,, that presents compelling evidence for the need to act. The site specifically calls out what multiple stakeholders—policymakers, healthcare providers, EHR vendors and patients—can do. The theme of the website and campaign is ‘Everybody Has Responsibilities’ to stress the need for increased collaboration.

    The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was passed in February 2009 to encourage the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs to ultimately improve the safety, quality, and efficiency of patient care. As a result of this legislation and the $40 billion investment supporting it, EHRs are now used by the vast majority of hospitals, clinics, and physician offices in the United States. 

    As part of the push for EHR usability and safety on the HITECH Act anniversary, MedStar is gathering signatures on a letter to the elected leaders of the United States Senate and House committees encouraging them to prioritize EHR usability and safety in their oversight of new policies being put in place by the Department of Health and Human Services. Central to this effort is a program that would allow for the open reporting of usability and safety challenges by both providers and patients so that common themes can be identified and addressed more rapidly.

    MedStar built the video website based on research they conducted recently on the usability of Cerner and Epic products, which comprise more than 50 percent of the market. The research findings, “A usability and safety analysis of electronic health records: a multi-center study,” were published July 2, 2018, in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.  

    For the study, 12 to 15 emergency physicians from four health systems (two using Cerner and two using Epic) were given common tasks mimicking real patient cases—placing orders for medical imaging, lab tests and medications. Researchers collected data pertaining to the variability of performance at each site.

    “The results of this study reinforce the assessment that ensuring the usability and safety of EHRs is a joint responsibility between physicians, technology vendors and technology purchasers that requires collaboration with these stakeholders at each stage of design, development and implementation,” said AMA CMIO Michael Hodgkins, M.D. “The health care system must have confidence in the EHR systems used to manage patient care.”

    Dr. Ratwani and MedStar Health have worked extensively with the AMA, Pew Charitable Trusts and other collaborators on EHR safety and usability over the past several years. Major journal articles include:


    About the MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare

    The MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare occupies a unique position in the United States as the largest human factors program embedded within a healthcare system. It brings together human factors scientists, systems safety engineers, health services researchers, clinicians, and other experts to create a safer and more efficient healthcare environment through four core services in research, usability, safety advisement, and education. The center is part of the MedStar Institute for Innovation and is also affiliated with the MedStar Health Research Institute and MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety. MedStar Health, the parent organization, is the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region, with 10 hospitals and an extensive ambulatory services network, and is the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University.    

  • January 03, 2019
    Facilities Manager from Maryland Renovates His Own Health Thanks to Basic Training to Battle High Blood Sugar
  • January 02, 2019

    Federico Asch, MD, FACC, FASE, Director of the Echocardiography Core Lab at MedStar Health Research Institute and Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Georgetown University presented final data from the World Alliance Societies of Echocardiography (WASE) Normal Values Study at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris. Read more.