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  • December 20, 2021

    The initiative is part of the NIH-funded AIM-AHEAD Consortium dedicated to addressing the lack of diversity in the field of data science

    Washington, D.C. – MedStar Health and Georgetown University Medical Center announce their collaboration in the Data Science Training Core, part of a new two-year, multimillion-dollar award funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The initiative is one of the four core functions of the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) Program.

    While the widespread adoption of electronic health records has offered exponential opportunities to apply data science to biomedical research, many challenges remain in accessing the full potential of this data, including access to AI/ML technology, proper training, and most urgently, a lack of diversity in investigators in the field and the data itself. NIH created the AIM-AHEAD program to enhance participation of underrepresented minorities in AI/ML research.

    “Artificial intelligence and machine learning are critical tools for research. Ensuring that investigators from all backgrounds and communities have access to learning these skills is essential for supporting an equitable workforce who can contribute to addressing the field’s most pressing questions, ” says Nawar Shara, Ph.D., Director for the Center of Biostatistics, Informatics, and Data Science (CBIDS) at MedStar Health Research Institute, and co-principal investigator for the Data Science Training core.

    “In addition to diversifying those contributing to this critical area of work, we are obligated to do all we can to reduce bias on the front end as we’re developing artificial intelligence as that is critical to how AI is applied in medicine and beyond,” explains Peter McGarvey, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology at Georgetown University Medical Center and Medical Center and Director of its Innovation Center Biomedical Informatics.

    Drs. Shara and McGarvey will develop data science training for early career and minority investigators with a particular interest in advancing health equity. While the initial effort will be to identify training needs to support workforce development, it will be followed by the development of practicums in competencies such as cloud computing, distributed computing, biostatistics, modeling, epidemiology, biomedical informatics, and other community-engaged research methods. Alex Libin, Ph.D., Scientific Director of Simulation Education Research for MedStar Health Research Institute and Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, will serve as communication and outreach lead for the initiative, bringing his expertise in autonomous learning and digital technology, and psychosocial functioning to the team of investigators.

    The initial phase of the two-year project is currently underway and will lead to the launch of a suite of training resources and curriculum. The Data Science Training Core team will also provide one-on-one, small and larger group sessions. Training candidates will range from high school, college, and graduate students to Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellows.

    An important feature of the program is that it represents a collaborative effort across MedStar Health Research Institute, Georgetown University and Howard University -- members of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) -- in collaboration with the University of Maryland.

    Dr. Joseph Verbalis, professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown Director of GHUCCTS, notes that “bringing together a diverse group of accomplished investigators and educators for this unique collaborative training effort across our GHUCCTS institutions reflects the value of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program to stimulate innovative research and educational programs to improve the health of our communities.”

    “Advances in machine learning are powering a faster and critically, a more representative body of medical research,” said Neil J. Weissman, MD, FACC, FASE, chief scientific officer at MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “It’s vitally important that we work to make the field of data science more inclusive to foster the next generation of investigators who will reshape the future of healthcare.”

     

    In addition to a focus on developing data science curriculum, the AIM-AHEAD program will include efforts to identify additional research priorities and build out software infrastructure to facilitate AI/ML and health disparities research. Other collaborating institutions in the consortium include National Alliance Against Disparities in Patient Health, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, OCHIN, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Houston, UCLA, The University of North Texas, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 
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  • December 20, 2021

    The initiative is part of the NIH-funded AIM-AHEAD Consortium dedicated to addressing the lack of diversity in the field of data science

    Washington, D.C. – MedStar Health and Georgetown University Medical Center announce their collaboration in the Data Science Training Core, part of a new two-year, multimillion-dollar award funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The initiative is one of the four core functions of the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) Program.

    While the widespread adoption of electronic health records has offered exponential opportunities to apply data science to biomedical research, many challenges remain in accessing the full potential of this data, including access to AI/ML technology, proper training, and most urgently, a lack of diversity in investigators in the field and the data itself. NIH created the AIM-AHEAD program to enhance participation of underrepresented minorities in AI/ML research.

    “Artificial intelligence and machine learning are critical tools for research. Ensuring that investigators from all backgrounds and communities have access to learning these skills is essential for supporting an equitable workforce who can contribute to addressing the field’s most pressing questions, ” says Nawar Shara, Ph.D., Director for the Center of Biostatistics, Informatics, and Data Science (CBIDS) at MedStar Health Research Institute, and co-principal investigator for the Data Science Training core.

    “In addition to diversifying those contributing to this critical area of work, we are obligated to do all we can to reduce bias on the front end as we’re developing artificial intelligence as that is critical to how AI is applied in medicine and beyond,” explains Peter McGarvey, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology at Georgetown University Medical Center and Medical Center and Director of its Innovation Center Biomedical Informatics.

    Drs. Shara and McGarvey will develop data science training for early career and minority investigators with a particular interest in advancing health equity. While the initial effort will be to identify training needs to support workforce development, it will be followed by the development of practicums in competencies such as cloud computing, distributed computing, biostatistics, modeling, epidemiology, biomedical informatics, and other community-engaged research methods. Alex Libin, Ph.D., Scientific Director of Simulation Education Research for MedStar Health Research Institute and Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, will serve as communication and outreach lead for the initiative, bringing his expertise in autonomous learning and digital technology, and psychosocial functioning to the team of investigators.

    The initial phase of the two-year project is currently underway and will lead to the launch of a suite of training resources and curriculum. The Data Science Training Core team will also provide one-on-one, small and larger group sessions. Training candidates will range from high school, college, and graduate students to Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellows.

    An important feature of the program is that it represents a collaborative effort across MedStar Health Research Institute, Georgetown University and Howard University -- members of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) -- in collaboration with the University of Maryland.

    Dr. Joseph Verbalis, professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown Director of GHUCCTS, notes that “bringing together a diverse group of accomplished investigators and educators for this unique collaborative training effort across our GHUCCTS institutions reflects the value of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program to stimulate innovative research and educational programs to improve the health of our communities.”

    “Advances in machine learning are powering a faster and critically, a more representative body of medical research,” said Neil J. Weissman, MD, FACC, FASE, chief scientific officer at MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “It’s vitally important that we work to make the field of data science more inclusive to foster the next generation of investigators who will reshape the future of healthcare.”

     

    In addition to a focus on developing data science curriculum, the AIM-AHEAD program will include efforts to identify additional research priorities and build out software infrastructure to facilitate AI/ML and health disparities research. Other collaborating institutions in the consortium include National Alliance Against Disparities in Patient Health, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, OCHIN, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Houston, UCLA, The University of North Texas, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 
  • October 22, 2021

    Researchers target social determinants of health to decrease racial disparities in cancer outcomes in Washington, D.C.,

    COLUMBIA, Md. — MedStar Health is leading a $5 million cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aimed at improving quality of life for recent cancer patients in Washington, D.C., The project aims to make advances by addressing social needs that disproportionally affect minority communities. Previous research shows that social factors like food insecurity, housing instability, transportation access, financial needs, and racial bias drive up to 80 percent of patient outcomes.

    Over the next five years, the study will focus on breast and prostate cancer patients finishing treatment at three Washington, D.C.,-based cancer clinics, using strategies to reduce health inequities and improve their outcomes. These strategies include screening patients for social needs ahead of graduation from treatment, engaging with community health workers to connect patients directly to local resources, and holding anti-discrimination training sessions for staff and clinicians.

    Researchers hope the project will eventually lead to a permanent and sustainable process for addressing social determinants of health and enhancing cancer care for minoritized communities.

    Hannah Arem, Ph.D., is the study’s corresponding principal investigator.

    “Despite improvements in cancer outcomes over time, significant disparities remain between Black and white cancer survivors,” said Arem, scientific director at MedStar Health Research Institute. “We believe the results of this research will play a major role in improving the survivorship of D.C. cancer patients over time as we better understand the burden of social needs in our community and how to support cancer survivors in addressing those needs.”

    “Once cancer patients finish active treatment, the transition to survivorship can have its own challenges,” said Christopher Gallagher, MD, co-investigator on the study and hematologist oncologist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “While new treatments and screenings lead to better outcomes, so does access to long-term social services. This study aims to connect patients to the right community resources at the right time to build a successful transition.”

    MedStar Health is partnering with co-principal investigator Mandi Pratt-Chapman, Ph.D., of George Washington University Cancer Center in addition to researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center and Howard University.

    “I am most excited about identifying and changing structural biases across three cancer care centers in the nation’s capital,” said Pratt-Chapman. “Through our anti-racism task forces, we hope to help reverse entrenched and growing disparities experienced by communities historically excluded from the healthcare system. We will work to resolve root causes of inequity while providing immediate relief to patients and families with significant social needs.”

    The research also builds on MedStar Health’s continued investment into community health, which includes the utilization of the Aunt Bertha Social Care Services Platform. In August, MedStar announced a new software integration that embeds the social needs screening tool directly into patient Electronic Health Records (EHRs). MedStar Health patients enrolled in this study will take advantage of the Aunt Bertha platform to quickly connect with thousands of nearby food banks, rent assistance programs, diaper banks, and more.

    “What’s so exciting about the community health and Aunt Bertha collaboration is that it enables us to identify community resources more easily for our clients and patients,” said Diana Quinn, senior director of Community Health for MedStar Health.  “This one-stop shopping approach within the electronic health record is designed such that we simply input a zip code, and it provides us with the names of the resources available in that area. This project will help us better understand which resources are needed for cancer patients specifically.”

    The study was awarded at the end of Sept. 2021 and will continue through Sept. 2026.

  • June 29, 2021

    COLUMBIA, MD - MedStar Health has launched a groundbreaking program designed to meet the needs of patients dealing with post-COVID conditions, such as Long COVID. Long COVID is diagnosed when COVID survivors experience persisting symptoms for weeks and even several months after they’ve recovered from the acute stage of the illness.

    Dr. Eric Wisotzky
    Dr. Eric Wisotzky

    “As we started to see more and more people becoming ill with COVID, we started to notice that patients were not just bouncing back right away, but were left with many different lingering symptoms affecting different parts of the body,” said Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician Eric Wisotzky, MD, who serves as medical director of the program. “We quickly responded by building the MedStar Health COVID Recovery Program to respond to these needs.”

    The COVID Recovery Program coordinates the care of COVID-19 patients across a wide range of MedStar Health services to treat fatigue, pain, persistent shortness of breath, headache, thinking, focus, and memory issues, weakness, and other varying symptoms reported by some COVID-19 patients following their recovery from the initial stages of the virus.

    Patients are paired with a physician or advanced practice provider to evaluate symptoms and develop a care plan through either a telehealth appointment or a visit to MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., or MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore. From there, a patient navigator sets up appointments and follow ups for all the specific treatments they may need, which saves valuable time and energy.

    Some patients with serious cases of COVID-19, like Patrick Bright, 56, of Clinton, MD, require several different types of care following their infection. After a month long stay at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital battling the coronavirus in the Spring of 2020, Bright began physical therapy, occupational therapy, and therapy for heart failure caused by the virus.

    “Now I’m at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for cardiac rehabilitation. Because I live so close, they’re allowing me to do my therapy there,” Bright said. “I’m so happy to be here. I just thank God for the medical staff at MedStar Health.”

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    Another patient taking advantage of the program is professional violinist Elise Blake, 38, of Washington, D.C., who spent six days at MedStar Washington Hospital Center with COVID-19 in November 2020. After overcoming her initial symptoms, Blake found that her ability to play violin at a high level had diminished.

    “You check for flow. You check for technique. Even when you’re learning a new piece, you know how to fix problems,” she said. “I just had to kind of stop for a while. I was really weak.”

    Blake was referred to the COVID Recovery Program where Dr. Wisotzky evaluated her symptoms and set her up with regular appointments to see specialists in pulmonology, neurology, and physical therapy. Over time, the strength and dexterity needed to play professional violin has returned. She is now back teaching students virtually and performing in outdoor concerts as venues start to reopen.

    Elise Blake

    “The thing I liked about the program was that it was so comprehensive,” Blake said. “It would have taken a lot more effort to set up all the appointments on my own when I didn’t have the energy. I’m convinced it helped me heal better because it was more streamlined.”

    “Through this whole team we’re really able to help people get back to their old selves,” said Wisotzky.

    Patients interested in the COVID Recovery Program should be at least six weeks removed from the start of COVID symptoms and should have documentation of at least one positive COVID-19 test. If a documented positive test is not available, patients can be referred by a primary care provider.

    For more information, visit medstarhealth.org/COVIDRecovery.


    About MedStar Health
    At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

  • April 04, 2021

    Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

  • Richard Battista holds a sign indicating that he is the 1000th person that MedStar Health has treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies.
    March 16, 2021

    Washington, D.C., resident “feels fortunate” after receiving treatment

    Columbia, MD — Richard Battista, 61, of Washington, D.C., has become the 1000th MedStar Health COVID-19 patient to be treated with the potentially life-saving monoclonal antibody therapy.

    “It sounds like the antibody therapy makes this whole process easier and gives me the antibodies I need to fight the virus sooner, rather than my body having to make them,” said Battista. “If I can stay out of the hospital, it sounds like a winner to me!”

    Richard Battista’s diagnosis and infusion of antibodies

    Battista spiked a fever in mid-March and wasn’t feeling well on his drive home from work as the chief financial officer for a real estate management company in Maryland.

    “I went to the MedStar Health Urgent Care in Bethesda and got tested,” recalled Battista. “As it turns out, I was positive for the virus. Two days later I was receiving the monoclonal antibody therapy, an infusion that took about 15-20 minutes. I had no side effects, so I was able to go home an hour later and continue my 14-day quarantine.”

    Battista received his treatment at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in a space specially refurbished for COVID-19 patients to receive monoclonal antibody therapy. Similar infusion centers are operating at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, Md., and MedStar Harbor Hospital in Baltimore. Emergency departments at all MedStar Health hospitals are also equipped to give the treatment.

    “We are very pleased with the favorable results for our COVID-19 patients who receive this monoclonal antibody therapy,” said Princy Kumar, MD, co-Chair, COVID-19 Pandemic Response for MedStar Health, and chief of Infectious Diseases at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “The intent is to stop the virus in its tracks, so patients don’t get any sicker and don’t need to be hospitalized.”

    What is monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19?
    Our bodies naturally make antibodies to fight infection. When our immune system meets a new foreign substance in the body, it makes new antibodies that attack the foreign substance. The next time that substance shows up, our immune system can produce the same antibodies to help the body fight it off before it can make a person sick. These types of naturally occurring antibodies provide active immunity. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory and mimic the body’s ability to fight off viruses and pathogens.

    "With antibody therapy, we’re able to give the body a shortcut, boosting its immune response by introducing antibodies pre-assembled and pre-programmed to fight the coronavirus,” said Dr. Kumar. “Monoclonal antibodies are developed in a laboratory and have a treatment effect similar to a vaccine. But, instead of prompting the body to create new antibodies, monoclonal antibody treatment delivers them directly, where they’re needed and can do the job more quickly than a vaccine. However, the monoclonal antibodies are removed from the body and therefore, you still need the vaccine for long term protection.”

    Who should receive monoclonal antibodies?
    In November 2020, the FDA cleared two monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment: bamlanivimab, as well as a “cocktail” treatment of casirivimab and imdevimab. Both treatment approaches are currently available to early-stage COVID-19 patients.

    FDA guidelines recommend monoclonal antibody treatment for the following patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are not hospitalized:

    • 12 years or older
    • Weigh more than 88 pounds
    • Experiencing mild to moderate symptoms such as cough, fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever for fewer than 10 days
    • At risk to get very sick from COVID-19

    High-risk factors for serious illness from COVID-19 include:

    • Age 65 or older
    • Obesity (body mass index (BMI) greater than 35)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease
    • Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • 55 or older with cardiovascular disease, uncontrolled hypertension or chronic pulmonary (lung) disease

    “The FDA’s emergency use authorization has prompted healthcare organizations like MedStar Health to develop robust programs to administer these treatments,” said Glenn Wortmann, MD, co-Chair, COVID-19 Pandemic Response for MedStar Health and director of Infectious Diseases at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “The antibody treatments we have now work well, and we expect more and better treatments soon – treatments that will give us even stronger, more effective defenses against future pathogens, the bacteria and viruses that cause disease.”

    Once recovered, should a monoclonal antibody patient get the COVID-19 vaccine?
    Because active antibodies could interfere with the vaccine’s effectiveness, we advise waiting at least 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. That gives the antibodies time to clear the system and leaves the immune system primed to respond to the vaccine.

    The use of monoclonal antibody therapy has already proven promising in the treatment of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other endocrine disorders as well as carrying chemotherapy or radiation agents directly to cancer cells.

    Five days into his antibody treatment, Battista was continuing to rest and work from home with minimal COVID symptoms. “I’ve been fortunate,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good. It’s all been very uneventful. I hope others will hear about this and they can take advantage of it, too.”

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    About MedStar Health
    At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

  • Former Baltimore Raven Todd Heap pledged to raise $1 million in support of the Todd Heap Pediatric Center, part of the seven-story patient care tower at MedStar Franklin Square.

    "As parents of three children, my wife Ashley and I recognize the need for and value of quality pediatric care and services close at hand. When we learned about the breadth of pediatric services MedStar Franklin Square provides to the community, we knew this was a hospital we wanted to be associated with," said Todd Heap, former tight end for the Baltimore Ravens. "I am extremely impressed and moved by the great care and compassion the hospital provides to children and families in the community."

    Heap's generous pledge to raise $1 million was celebrated at a groundbreaking for the patient care tower in October 2007. At the event, MedStar Franklin Square executives and board members announced the launch of a $10 million capital campaign which was jumpstarted by Heap's generous donation.


    todd-heap-carl-schindelar

    Carl Schindelar, former president of MedStar Franklin Square, with former Baltimore Raven Todd Heap

    todd-heap-pediatric

    "While our employees and those who have used our pediatric services know the vital support MedStar Franklin Square provides, it is encouraging to have someone outside our community also believe in what we are doing," stated Carl Schindelar, former president of MedStar Franklin Square. "We have a longstanding commitment to the physical, emotional, and social needs of area children. Todd's commitment will go far in helping support our mission to provide high-quality and comprehensive pediatric and family-centered care and services."

    MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center Foundation
    9000 Franklin Square Drive, Baltimore, MD 21237, 443-777-7980
    fshfoundation@medstar.net

    Media contacts

    Marianne Worley

    410-772-6661

    202-531-1508

    marianne.worley@medstar.net

    Brendan McNamara

    410-772-6557

    571-314-2942

    brendan.t.mcnamara@medstar.net