Answering the Call – A Profile of CNC Founder Bruce MoskowitzSeptember 4, 2018
Like all physicians, Bruce Moskowitz has made a career out of diagnosing and treating his patients’ ailments. But such is his focus on his patients that, over the years, he’s been able to do things that most doctors don’t: He’s been able to address population-wide health issues by changing the way medical information is distributed to affected populations. And as a result of his tireless dedication to patient care, he’s had the opportunity to help shape national healthcare policy along the way.
During his medical residency at the University of Rochester’s medical school, Moskowitz frequently worked with inner city residents and migrant farm workers – two groups who he saw were often not getting quality medical care.
“I came away from the experience with a real appreciation of which services exist – or don’t exist – for those populations.”
The missing element in most cases, he realized, was information. “Whether it was a pregnant woman or new mother who needed nutritional information for herself and new baby, or folks who were overweight or underweight,” Moskowitz says, “a big part of the problem was that they didn’t have access to the information they needed to make the right decisions.”
While at the University of Miami earning his M.D., Moskowitz was awarded the Jerome Krivanek award for innovation in medical education. Since then, he has made it his life’s work to help patients get the information they need, when they need it, in innovative ways. Some examples: MyClinicalTrialLocator, a website that helps patients find clinical trials relevant to their conditions; EmergencyMedicalCenterLocator, an iPhone app that points users to the nearest emergency rooms; a database tracking medical device safety issues; and more recently: the Cancer Nutrition Consortium.
Over the past few decades, Moskowitz has become renowned in the West Palm Beach, Florida area, where he practices primary care, for another trait that’s less and less common these days: being available to his patients around the clock.
“Because Bruce is so well-connected, he can bring the right talents to the table to find solutions for big problems.”
– Teresa McJoynt, Mayo Clinic
Those decades of connecting with patients above and beyond the standard of physician care have made him a highly sought-after adviser at the highest levels. Though Moskowitz declines to discuss the matter, healthcare industry trade press outlets described the following story: The month before Donald Trump was sworn in, his transition team sought to bring together a handful of healthcare industry leaders at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach to advise the president-elect on potential reforms to the Veterans’ Administration, national healthcare policy and biotechnology regulation. Knowing Moskowitz’s reputation for being well-connected and well-liked, they called on him to help make the meeting happen. He was able to convene a group of executives from the country’s top healthcare organizations, including the heads of the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Partners Healthcare.
“I’ve had phone calls with Bruce at nights, weekends and over holidays,” says Teresa McJoynt, a former director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and of the CNC board member who joined the founding team following one of those calls. “When Bruce calls, you answer, and you know it’s going to be something exciting.”
When describing how the Cancer Nutrition Consortium came to be, Moskowitz is characteristically modest. “Like all important things,” he says, “the idea came not from physicians, but from patients.”
One of his patients told Moskowitz how frustrated she had become while trying to find information on how to maintain a healthy nutrition regimen while undergoing her cancer treatment. The more Moskowitz looked into ways to help that patient, the clearer it became to him that there was an opportunity to help another underserved population.
His strategy: harness the nutritional expertise amassed over the years by the world’s leading cancer centers, and make it available to the global cancer treatment community.
So Moskowitz picked up the phone. One of his first calls was to Jeremy Jacobs, a healthcare philanthropist whose hospitality company, Delaware North, has extensive experience working with culinary directors at major cancer centers around the country. Once Jacobs was onboard, Moskowitz assembled a founding team who helped him recruit the top chefs and food service directors at Mayo Clinic, Cedars-Sinai, Dana-Farber/Brigham Women’s, Culinary Institute of America, and a handful of other elite institutions.
“To paraphrase the best business book in recent years – Bossypants by Tina Fey,” Moskowitz says, “once you have a bright idea, surround yourself with people smarter than you, and get the hell out of their way.”
The Future of Nutrition
“The fact is, we’ve got an aging population,” Moskowitz says.. “We need to pay more attention to people who get behind on caloric intake, whether they’re cancer patients or people with hip fractures, or anything else they’re in treatment for or recovering from.”
Moskowitz points to the Hormel Vital Cuisine brand, which the CNC co-developed with Hormel Foods specifically for people recovering from illness or undergoing treatment, as an example.
“It’s my hope that our work will eventually impact nutrition on a larger scale, and leapfrog past serving only cancer patients.”
About the Author
Josh McHugh is editor-in-chief and CEO of Attention Span Media. Josh’s experience at the intersection of technology, media and business began at Forbes Magazine, where he chronicled the brainiacs and billionaires behind the turn-of-the-century tech upheaval, opening Forbes’ Bay area offices. Before joining Attention Span, he was a contributing editor at Wired Magazine and a writer for Vanity Fair, Outside, and shelfloads of other publications.