If you ask Neil Weissman, MD, what he loves most about his job, he’ll tell you how much he appreciates that MedStar Health is not just “in the medicine business,” where the core goals are simply to diagnose and treat someone when they get sick, but rather we are committed to health, wellbeing, and preventing illness. That’s because as an academic health system, MedStar Health recognizes that there are many aspects of advancing health that transcend the traditional clinic setting.
“To address health, you’ve got to go beyond the four walls of a hospital. An academic health system lives at the crossroad of academia and the real world. It addresses real-life issues and determinants of health: social, racial, economic, cultural, environmental factors – all those things affect health,” he said. “We’re a true health system that connects to the community, which is an ideal place to do research and a great place to train. It means the things we discover and learn are applicable to all those within our community.”
At MedStar Health, both research and education are core to the mission of providing high-quality health care. Dr. Weissman serves as the President of the MedStar Health Research Institute, where his responsibility is to support research within the system, and the Chief Scientific Officer of MedStar Health, which positions Dr. Weissman as an ambassador for the research being conducted at MedStar Health.
A trained cardiologist, Dr. Weissman originally decided to pursue medicine thanks to a very dynamic professor at the veterinary school where Dr. Weissman was taking a physiology course. “I wanted to go into a field where I could be a lifelong learner,” Dr. Weissman said. “Intellectual curiosity has been one of the big motivators for me.”
Dr. Weissman has been fortunate to have his career span clinical, educational, research, and administrative roles and all of these different roles were within the Georgetown University—MedStar Health system. As a researcher, Dr. Weissman was never interested in theoretical research. “What I always really loved as an investigator was to see my research put into practice. When I’m done with a research study and the results are immediately applicable for patients,” he said.
Now, he’s overseeing researchers at MedStar Health who are conducting research that has real-world impacts for communities here in the Washington/Baltimore region, and for countless others around the world. As Dr. Weissman said, “We are the future of academic medicine.”
What does that future look like exactly? Dr. Weissman is enthusiastic about the role that technology can help play in connecting medicine and clinicians on a real-time basis with patients. Technology that we’ve already integrated into our day-to-day lives, such as smart watches, could help foster a healthier future. “There’s all kind of technology out there that could passively help identify early symptoms of disease and allow us to implement early interventions. That’s where the future of medicine is, and how we’re going to become even more connected to our community,” he said.
While Dr. Weissman’s job keeps him busy, he also enjoys going on hikes with his dog Max, who joined the family as a so-called pandemic puppy, and tending to his vegetable and fruit garden.