Tech Tonics: Shami Feinglass – Doctor, Policy-Maker, BMX rider

November 20th, 2019 |
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Shamiram “Shami” Feinglass, MD, MPH, should have been a born again flower child.  She spent her childhood among the San Francisco royalty that defined the 60’s and 70’s rock and roll culture here in the City by the Bay.  Her single mom raised her while helping found the legendary Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, which was Shami’s first exposure to medicine.   One of her mom’s best friend was the legendary concert promoter Bill Graham and she grew up thinking nothing of hanging out at Santana’s birthday party or having Passover at Delancey Street or celebrating at Glide Memorial Church.

But Shami didn’t end up as a perennial Berkeley protestor in Birkenstocks – she had higher aspirations to be a ballerina or a doctor.  In a way she got both – she is doctor by day and dances for fun.  She is also currently Global Head of Medical and Government Affairs at Danaher Corp., one one of the nation’s biggest companies you never heard of. Danaher is ranked 160th on the Fortune 500 and has over $19 billion in revenue. Shami is a key leader in the company’s extensive diagnostics and life sciences businesses. Oh, and by the way, she also happens to be a nationally and internationally ranked BMX bike racer, holding a Maryland BMX State Championship spot and an active member of the USA BMX World Championship Team.

At this point you should realize: Shami does nothing halfway.

Shami’s path from backstage groupie to front stage leader took a path through medicine and particularly through the world of government and public policy.  She helped Rosalyn Carter think through mental health policy during her own studies at Emory and was a Commander in the US Public Health Service.  She was later a Senior Medical Officer at CMS, working with fellow Tech Tonics podcast guest Tanisha Carino, where she helped drive adoption and implementation of the newly rising concept of evidence-based policy.  All this while raising a family of two kids, completing two medical residencies, being named a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, and serving as a mentor to women in the medical and life sciences fields.

For the record, Shami, like Lisa, is an Aspen Institute Health Innovation Fellow and both attended the same 1983 Day on the Green concert, though they did not yet know they were bound to be friends.

Shami’s godfather, legendary Bay Area chef Narsai David, was the one who gave her the name Shamiram, not one that is easily found on bike license plates.  Legend has it that Shamiram was an Assyrian Queen who actually invented the library, even though a man, Hannibal, later got credit for it.  Shami has taken that inequity to heart and wholeheartedly committed to ensuring gender equality and equity in the workplace.  She prides herself on being someone who loves to dive into things that scare her, though it’s hard to imagine what might make that list.

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Posted in: Audio Podcast, Healthcare, Tech Tonics, Technology