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Miles of Smiles: 25 Years, 25 Facts About Howard Weinstein, MD

Hospital News

Miles of Smiles: 25 Years, 25 Facts About Howard Weinstein, MD

On April 18, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology division chief, Howard Weinstein, MD, will run the Boston Marathon® for his 25th consecutive year as part of the Mass General Marathon Team. Here, we learn a little more about the man who has brought miles of smiles to patients, families and friends across the Mass General community.

Colette O'Neill,
Aidan Parkinson
April 13, 2022

1. With a career spanning more than a quarter century at Massachusetts General Hospital, Howard Weinstein, MD, brings unyielding dedication and medical and research expertise to his patients in the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). As division chief, he is known for his compassion and sense of humor and the boundless joy he brings to his young patients.

2. In 1998, in partnership with John Hancock, Dr. Weinstein secured ten numbers for the Boston Marathon®. That year, the Mass General Marathon Team was founded with the purpose of “Fighting Kids’ Cancer … One Step at a Time,” and has since raised more than $18 million to support the MGHfC pediatric cancer program.

3. Every year since, Dr. Weinstein has run the Boston Marathon® in honor of his patients. That’s a total of 629 running miles and more than $1.7 million for pediatric cancer care and research.

Dr. Weinstein’s vast Boston Marathon® medal collection

4. In 1998, along with Annah Abrams, MD, and Heather Peach, MS, CCLS, Dr. Weinstein co-established the Patient Partner Program to honor the courageous children, adolescents and young adults who are receiving or have received treatment at the MGHfC Cancer Center. Mass General Marathon Team runners are paired with pediatric patients prior to Marathon Monday to draw strength and inspiration from one another. Since its inception, more than 1,000 patient partners have participated and benefited from the program.

5. Dr. Weinstein has run in honor of nearly 30 patient partners over the past 24 years. One of the team’s first patient partners was 5-year-old Kristin Santanello. She was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent two years of chemotherapy. Her father Dan, grateful for his daughter’s care, ran 11 marathons alongside Dr. Weinstein. In 2011, he passed the torch to Kristin and she became the first former patient to cross the finish line as a member of the Mass General marathon team. Together, Kristin and her dad have raised more than $330,000 for the pediatric cancer program.

6. Born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Weinstein is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

7. Dr. Weinstein has published more than 150 scholarly articles and book chapters with primary research interests in acute leukemia and malignant lymphoma in children.

8. Every Marathon Monday, the Weinstein family opens the doors of their home near Mile 20 on the marathon route. They welcome current and former patient partners and their families, friends and neighbors as well as Mass General staff and volunteers who are there to cheer the runners on. Dr. Weinstein always stops at Mile 20 to greet everyone, then sets off again, ready to conquer Heartbreak Hill.

Every Marathon Monday, a crowd gathers at Dr. Weinstein’s home to cheer on the runners

9. When Dr. Weinstein’s twins, Becca and Aaron, were seven years old, they started a lemonade stand at Mile 20. When they left for college (Aaron was so inspired by the success of the venture, he went to business school!), they passed the job to the children of Annah Abrams, MD, the child psychiatrist for the division of pediatric hematology oncology. Lulu, Rachel, and Charlie ran the bake sale for seven years. This year, the Fine girls are taking over the stand. Their parents have run the marathon on behalf of MGHfC for the past 8 years in honor of the care their daughter Lily received as an infant. Over the years, the stand has raised almost $25,000 for pediatric cancer care at Mass General!

10. Adding to his commitment on the ground in Boston, Dr. Weinstein has played an instrumental role in developing a pediatric oncology program at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) in Uganda. He has been working with the program to help deliver high-quality care to Ugandan children battling cancer.

Dr. Weinsten in Uganda with (left to right) Stephen Asiimwe program director, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)-Mass General Hospital Global Health Collaborative; Gertrude Kiwanuka, MD, dean faculty of medicine, MUST, and Abraham Omoding, MD, Uganda Cancer Institute.

11. Dr. Weinstein jokes that he knows every physical therapist at Mass General because there is no part of his body that he has not injured.

12. When not in a white coat, Dr. Weinstein dons a white chef’s hat and prepares a mouth-watering margherita or mushroom pizza at home each week.

13. Dr. Weinstein is an avid tennis player. In fact, he met his wife, Ann Hochberg, on a tennis court!

14. After a partial knee replacement, Dr. Weinstein’s doctor told him his marathon days might be over. But Dr. Weinstein was running again a few months later and completed another marathon the following year!

15. Dr. Weinstein ran many marathons with the father of one of his patient’s Lindsey, who at age 12 was treated for sarcoma. When Lindsey was in her twenties, she ran the marathon with Dr. Weinstein. And in subsequent years her sisters and friends laced up to run.

16. Running with former patients is happening more frequently these days and that is a trend that brings Dr. Weinstein much joy.

17. Every Halloween, Dr. Weinstein can be spotted at MGHfC wearing a colorful clown wig and making young patients laugh wherever he goes.

Dr. Weinstein clowning around at MGHfC

18. Dr. Weinstein loves candy! One patient’s family presented him with an M+M® dispenser, which he keeps in his office, always fully stocked (except when he is digging in!).

19. An avid Boston sports fan, Dr. Weinstein threw out the opening pitch at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park!

20. Dr. Weinstein loves dogs, and his two yellow labs often participated in marathon day events, “helping” patients and families finish their sandwiches.

21. Inspired by his example, many of Dr. Weinstein’s patients have become physicians. Former patient Jonathan Ringo was 7 years old when Dr. Weinstein treated him. Now Jonathan is a doctor living in Israel and has six children of his own!

22. Each year, many of Dr. Weinstein’s current and former patients gather at Mile 20 to cheer him on.

23. Dr. Weinstein’s daughter Becca is a first year pediatrics resident at MGHfC.

Dr. Weinstein and his daughter Becca, now a first year resident at Mass General

24. Dr. Weinstein received a standing ovation when at the wedding of a former patient, after the bride’s father noted in his speech that the event would not have happened were it not for Dr. Weinstein’s care of his daughter.

25. Dr. Weinstein is revered by patients, families and colleagues — as well as the marathon team he recruits to join him in raising funds for pediatric hematology and oncology at MGHfC.

BONUS FACT! Dr. Weinstein will run his 25th consecutive Boston Marathon® as a member of the Mass General Marathon Team on April 18, but his 30th Boston Marathon overall. He started running the race five years before the inception of the Mass General team in 1998!

Will he ever hang up his running shoes? Probably not …

To support Dr. Weinstein and his incredible efforts, please visit his fundraising page.
To learn more about Mass General’s marathon team, click here.

John Hancock-Mass General Boston Marathon® Partnership

Mass General is proud to be an official Partner of John Hancock in the Marathon Non-Profit Program. The Non-Profit Program provides more than 1,000 Boston Marathon® bibs to select non-profit organizations throughout the community, which provides organizations with a significant fundraising opportunity. As a Non-Profit Program partner for the past 25 years, Mass General has been able to host more than 2,360 runners who have collectively raised more than $21M for the hospital. Learn more about our John Hancock-Mass General Boston Marathon® partnership that continues to provide significant support for our three signature causes: Pediatric Cancer, Emergency Medicine and Home Base.