Carmen Named President of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization

Congratulations to Marcela G. del Carmen, M.D., M.P.H., who has been named president of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization (MGPO) and executive vice president, Mass General Brigham after having superbly led the MGPO as interim president these past six months. Marcela has been a wise, steady, and reassuring presence at the helm of the MGPO, advancing the vital programs, services, and advocacy that support Mass General Hospital’s (MGH) extraordinary physicians. She assumes this role effective immediately.

The importance of the MGPO to the success of MGH and Mass General Brigham cannot be overstated. The largest multi-specialty medical group in New England and one of the largest in the nation, the MGPO represents some of the most accomplished physicians and groundbreaking researchers and scientists in the world. Its voice is always important – but particularly as we continue our progress toward becoming the integrated academic health care system of the future with patients at its center. The MGPO’s partnership and collaboration will be absolutely critical in the months and years ahead.

Having assumed this interim position in April, Marcela has also served as chief medical officer for both the MGPO and MGH. As interim MGPO president, she has been a strong voice for physicians, tackled issues of burnout and administrative burden, and championed new and expanded programs and services to support physician health, well-being, and work-life balance. Instrumental in the creation of and serving as chair of the MGPO’s Frigoletto Committee on Physician Well-Being, she has been keenly focused on identifying ways to enhance the practice of medicine so it continues to hold meaning, fulfillment, and joy for clinicians.

Long before COVID, she identified physician burnout as a priority and as part of the Frigoletto Committee she has collaborated with the Department of Medicine Center for Physician Well-Being and the Center for Faculty Development. Externally, Marcela has collaborated with the American Medical Association and Physician Wellness Academic Consortium, and she has partnered with her peers at Brigham and Women's Physicians Organization to allocate ambulatory care resources that could best support physicians.

Few are as in touch with the needs of physicians as Marcela. As an MGH faculty member for nearly two decades, Marcela has a deep understanding of the MGPO, MGH, and the broader system. As a practicing gynecologic oncologist, she has experienced firsthand the complexities of the changing healthcare landscape that have added to the pressures of academic medicine today. She is a thoughtful listener who understands the challenge of balancing precious time caring for patients with the extensive administrative requirements, while also carving out time for training the next generation, pursuing research, and addressing issues of equity for underserved communities.

Marcela has always put the patient at the center of her clinical work. Throughout her career, Marcela has dedicated her time to the surgical and medical treatment of patients with gynecologic cancers; to training medical students, residents, and fellows; and to conducting health service research with a primary focus on health care disparities in the care and outcomes of underserved women. She will continue her clinical practice while serving as MGPO president.

A gifted oncologic surgeon known for taking on some of the most complex cases, Marcela has long been a trusted resource for colleagues with a genuine sense of empathy and compassion. This combination of clinical skill and quiet, yet fierce, dedication to patients earned her the prestigious MGPO Brian A. McGovern, MD Award for Clinical Excellence in 2013.

Marcela has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to work across departments. Under her leadership, MGH launched the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program. The first data architecture in the hospital’s history to provide real time variation reporting to surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses, ERAS has been recognized and celebrated across the institution as a prime example of the multidisciplinary collaboration and integration of care MGH and our broader system must excel at in the years to come.

Marcela’s personal story of inspiration and grit has helped make her a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Born in Managua, Nicaragua, she was 10 years old in 1979 when she and her family fled to the United States – suitcase in hand and escorted by the Red Cross – to escape the revolution that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship and took the lives of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans. She has drawn on that experience, mentoring under-represented students through the MGH Summer Research Training Program, and recruiting, retaining, and growing the careers of women and diverse medical and surgical specialists. She has helped double the MGPO's financial support for both physician-scientist and clinician-teacher awards to help transform the MGPO and MGH into a more accessible and equitable organization.

Inspired by her maternal grandfather, a urologist who late in his career went into public health, Marcela attended Emory University and then medical school and residency at Johns Hopkins, her grandfather’s alma mater. She came to MGH in 1999 for a gynecologic oncology fellowship, and ultimately joined the MGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2003. Marcela earned a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2006. She is a professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School, the first Latina and first woman in the department to reach this highest academic rank.

As we congratulate Marcela, we also take the opportunity to thank the members of the search committee: Carolina Alarco, MGPO Trustee; Susan Bennett, MD, Medicine; David F.M. Brown, MD, MGH President; Will Curry, MD, Neurosurgery; Art Goldstein, MGPO Trustee; Mitch Harris, MD, chief of Orthopaedic Surgery; Keith Lillemoe, MD, chief of Surgery; Laura Morse, MGPO Trustee; Diane Patrick, MGH Trustee; May Pian-Smith, MD, Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine; Carmichael Roberts, MGPO Trustee; and Danita Sanborn, MD, Cardiology. We also thank the many physicians and others who provided valuable feedback during the search process.

Please join us in extending our deepest gratitude for Marcela’s tremendous leadership during the transition. We look forward to continuing the important work to ensure a promising and bright future for the MGPO, MGH, and all of Mass General Brigham.